My son’s voice echoed down the hall. It was the day after Christmas, and he’d arranged all his legos from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. For a few minutes, I plopped down in his room as he recounted every moment of the epic battle the legos had just finished.
“Look, Dad!” and “Let me show you this, Mom” are phrases we hear frequently around the house. If it’s not legos, it’s one of our kids showing us the world they’ve created on Minecraft, or their princess tea party protocol, or the bath toys that have been transformed into vessels for a sea battle.
While we were walking by the river last month, my daughter asked me to tell her a story about “Jimmy and Jasmine” (my imaginary tales about two children who are, conspicuously, the same ages as our oldest two kids). I quickly made up a story for her, and then I asked her to tell me one. She talked for fifteen minutes. It was the longest story arc I’ve encountered from a six-year-old!
“Dad, listen!” and “Mom, look!”
Due to the busyness of our lifestyles, I hate to admit that sometimes I’ve treated ”look at this!” or “look what I made!” like a distraction, an intrusion into my adult world. I’ve gotten away with giving my kids a passing glance, a quick word (“That’s neat!”), before going back to whatever it was I was focused on.
I’ve been missing out. Our kids aren’t intruding. They’re inviting.
When a kid says, “Look at what I made!” they are inviting us into the world of their imagination. They want us to share in the sparkle of their creativity. They want us to know their stories, their battles, their imaginary worlds of lego men and princess dolls.
What a privilege it is to be invited into the world of a child! To once again see those legos come alive, to feel the world on fire with wonder, to encounter toys that talk and move and breathe and feel!
I don’t want to be the dad of a passing glance. I want to enter the world of my children, just like God entered ours. I want to be a father who delights in the imaginary innovations of my children, just like God enjoys watching His children make something of this world He has given us.
In a few years, our sons will outgrow their lego sets. Our daughter won’t be recreating Frozen with Anna and Elsa dolls. They won’t remember all the stories and adventures they made up.
But I hope they remember that Dad was there, and he loved it.