It was a bright and sunny day on Monday, already near 70 degrees by the time I boarded the ferry, with hazy blue skies and mountains on every horizon. The last time I checked the weather, they were saying this week would be partly cloudy and in the low-to-mid 70s; now they are predicting 90 degree temperatures.

Sunday was one of those picture postcard summer days, with sunshine pouring down like a golden waterfall. The kids spent almost the entire afternoon in the pool or playing with the sprinkler on the lawn. We bought a funny sprinkler that has twenty or thirty little nozzles on flexible tubes coming out from the main hose … when turned on, the nozzles flail about like a bunch of spitting snakes. Rachel appointed herself “Sprinkler Drill Sergeant” and amused herself (and the rest of us) by ordering the snakes about in an imperious voice. Leanne came over and they played outside for several hours.

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At one point (Kathy and I had retreated inside by this time) they came up with the bright idea of using a hose to create a mud hole. Then they began wallowing around in it like hogs … I wish I had taken a picture. By all reports, they covered themselves from head to toe in mud; I made them all wash up thoroughly in the little pool before coming inside. The pool (which we had just cleaned and refilled) was brown with their residue.

A week or so ago we invented a variant of Dodgeball that can be played on our deck … this weekend we played it for quite a while. The rules are simple and it is a game that can be played by everyone on various levels. Joshua makes it a matter of pride to avoid being ‘it’ for as long as possible, and never moves from the position he thinks is most defensible. Daniel delights in the brinkmanship of taunting whoever is ‘it’ and runs from safe zone to safe zone whenever the ball is dropped or not immediately returned. Rachel combines these two strategies, while David (as a pseudo-combatant) runs freely around and is only occasionally struck by the ball (usually by accident). Sarah provides cover for the others and makes a big production out of hiding behind the deck box for safety.

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This is a moment that may not last for very long, wherein the children are all of an age where they want to play with me. In just a few years, the older ones will have moved on to other interests, most likely. But for now, there is a window of opportunity in which we can all play together, and everything can become a game.

Somehow I got a hold of Joshua’s blow-dart gun, and a new game was born. Possession of the rubber-tipped blow-dart entitled the holder to the dart-gun itself, and the hunt would begin. The objective was to shoot an opponent with the dart without losing possession of the gun … all the kids joined in the mad scramble to retrieve the dart whenever it was fired, in hopes of becoming the new hunter. Sarah went around asking to be shot, and David shrieked with glee (and simulated fear) whenever anyone would brandish the blow-gun. It was a lot of fun, for some reason.

I guess I simply like being a Dad. I really enjoy being fun with these strange little people; it never stops to fill me with wonder that God has allowed Kathy and I to have a part in creating these precious lives. Sometimes I worry about my lack of ability in molding them into the kind of people that God wants them to be, but mostly I just revel in the fun of being a parent. I figure if I can teach them to love God, the rest is gravy.

We had scrambled eggs and toast and grapes and cantaloupe and root beer floats for dinner, watching one of the “Little House on the Prairie” episodes. After supper we wrestled for a while on the living room floor and then I sent them off to bed. I read them a chapter from the Bible (we’re back in Genesis again) and then a chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. It was a very good day.

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