Tree House Whittling

“Dad, would you play with us?”

Maybe it was the way that he asked. Maybe it was because it had been so long since I had just hung out with my boys, without having other pressing needs. Perhaps it was half promise from the previous day when the answer to that question was, “Not right now.”

This time I said yes with another question. (Yes, it is a bad habit of mine to not answer question asked, but instead ask another one.  It is one of the things about me that my wife finds charming…annoying…one of the two.  I can’t remember which.)

“What do you want to do?”

They had been sent outside by their mother because of the loud rambunctious way they had been clearing off the lunch dishes after church. I had thoughts of having to run around in the heat of the day, and almost instantly regretted my response.

~D~ pulled the pocket knife out of his pocket–the one we gave him for his birthday in June: “We haven’t whittled in a while.”

My relief was almost audible. “Sure, we can whittle.  Let me get a knife for ~K~.”

Somehow we ended up in the tree house–each with sticks and a pocket knife.  Finally getting settled, we started in on the sticks and soon there were slivers of wood and bark all over the floor of the tree house. We jawed away, talking about nothing in particular, but just hanging out together.

Its moments like these that make it worth while.  I need to be willing to put things aside more often–the Sunday newspaper can wait, and so can the nap, but such opportunities are fleeting. And there will come a time when they won’t ask me to play–but I hope not.

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