Today I spent the afternoon doing life with my neighbors in and around the apartments where I live. It started with the hot tub by the pool. My muscles needed therapy and it seemed like a good idea during this surprising respite from Portland’s love affair with cold and rain. In I went. First one foot, then the other. A brother and sister were already there. She is five; he is four. Sharp as tacks with wits to match. I wanted to close my eyes and luxuriate in a moment of healing bubbles. He wanted to play torpedo with me, using his toy torpedo which shoots quickly through the water.
What was I to do? Say, “Sorry young man, I am too old and sophisticated for such childish things?” Blah. It didn’t even occur to me to turn him down. So play we did, their mother looking on with a watchful eye (the only reason I agreed to the interaction, mind you). He shot the torpedo at me and I shot it back. At one point I acted the part of a sinking ship, quite persuasively I might add. They both giggled with delight and mom grinned in the background.
Soon, the sister said, “Are you a dad?”
“No,” I replied. “I’m not a dad. But I am an unc-“
“Why not?” she spoke over my response.
Somehow, I managed to redirect her line of inquiry. I mentioned her doll she held under the water. “Is that a Barbie?”
She rolled her eyes. “No! It’s a princess!”
“And you’re a princess!”
“I’m a princess? Now THAT would be scary! And silly, too!”
She giggled. “Yup, you’re a princess!”
We laughed some more and then it was time for me to part ways. Their mom thanked me for playing with them. We did life together in a small, simple way. You know, the way of Jesus as he made time for the youngest among us.
I am curious. How have you done life with others today?