A few weeks ago, our neighbor caught us in a compromising situation.
My son, Miles, had taken one of the big boxes from the move into our new home and turned it into his own private playhouse. Naturally, we encouraged this imaginative play, cutting out windows for him and drawing pictures on the outside. It entertained him for days while we unpacked and moved in.
On this particular afternoon, we were taking a break from the move, lounging in the sun, enjoying our new backyard, and watching Miles play. He was taking his little toy animals into his “house” one by one. The yard was the jungle; the house was safety.
He turned to me. “Come on in, Daddy.”
I didn’t think twice. I got down on my hands and knees and crawled in, my feet still sticking out of the door. The box was just big enough for Miles, his animals, and me. He whispered to assure me that we were safe now, and began to introduce me by name to the hippos, elephants, and zebras that had also taken up sanctuary.
Then he turned to my wife. “Come on in, Mama!”
She couldn’t resist his invitation. Miles needed the whole family, and she wasn’t going to let him down. She crawled in right beside us, pregnant belly and all.
We were quite the sight: my wife and I with our feet sticking out of the box, tiny animals shoved against every part of our bodies, laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the moment. In a big cardboard box, closely packed in with the ones we loved, in the middle of a strange, new yard that could have belonged to anyone, we finally started to feel like this new place could be home.
That’s when I saw her, through one of the playhouse’s custom windows. A woman peeking over the fence, staring at a jumble of legs sticking out of a giant box in the middle of her new neighbors’ yard. She paused for a moment to take it in, smirked, and kept on walking.
I didn’t mind. Strangers seeing the distance we’re willing to go to make our son happy didn’t matter to me. What mattered is that he saw it. And as long as he continued to ask me to get down in the dirt with him, pleading with all the sincerity of the moment (it really wasn’t safe in the jungle), I knew that was where I would be.
Have there been any times when you’ve proved yourself a fool for your kids? How far have you gone to make them smile? I’d love to hear your stories.