One of the biggest highlights of my summer was taking each of my kids camping for a day and night, on their own. One on one time with your children is precious and surprisingly rare. Parents really need to be strategic and make an effort. I’m convinced it makes a difference in countless ways for children and their moms and dads.
I’m not a hero in this. Hindsight proves how often I’ve chosen other things over my family, perhaps urgent but never more important than them. But I’m human and I’ve tried my best.
Anyway, this summer I took each of my kids camping for a day and a night. My daughter Cassidy is 6 and my son Jackson is 12. One of Cassidy’s goals was to hike to the top of the highest hill, and sit together there so I could read Chronicles of Narnia to her. It seems to me almost impossible to plan treasured moments like this, although it does require flexibility and availability. By the way, this hike was Cassidy’s idea, not mine. She may not remember it, although I hope she does, and I know I will.
One of Jackson’s goals was to play baseball together. Simple enough I suppose, but it’s more than one might expect. He’s got it all figured out with whiffle balls, and an old hockey net that we use as a ‘bat-catcher’. If you put tape on half of the whiffle ball, and hold it just so, and throw it certain ways you can actually throw a sinker or a slider or a curve ball or whatever. But because it’s a whiffle ball you can swing and hit it hard and it won’t go off into the stratosphere. You can get decent hits, but they’re also catchable and often unpredictable. And then there was the rainstorm that caught us unexpectedly racing to the campsite to create a rain barrier with tarp and rope so we could sit around our fire while the rain poured around us, cooking hotdogs and marshmallows. Again, he may not remember it, although I hope he does, and I know I will.
I realize I’m doing the proud and emotional dad thing here, telling stories about my kids. I’m hoping it’s not like when you meet someone and they pull out pictures of their kids to show, but you weren’t particularly interested to see them or hear about them in the first place. This doesn’t have to be about kids though. It’s about relationship and about loved ones, and the mysterious beauty of those moments.
In the story of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Narnia seems like an imaginary world that Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter access through a magical wardrobe. In the story, Narnia is real place. And the adventures are exciting to say the least. It’s just a story, but as I’m reading it with my daughter after hiking to the top of a beautiful vista or imagining playing in a big-league stadium while playing whiffle ball-baseball in a tiny field with my son, I can’t help but realize that the wonder of life, the ‘Narnia moments’ are found in the simple things. You actually enter into the beautiful and fantastic moments through the ordinary ones, like hiding in a wardrobe, reading storybooks or playing baseball.