The birthday party was over, but the silliness had reached stellar levels with leftover hotdogs flying across the yard, water guns shooting pink lemonade, and Sam-the-dog going crazy trying to nab a weiner for himself. Rachel ducked to evade the pink spurt from her daughter’s water gun, then fired back from her own pink arsenal, drenching the back of Annie’s hair.
At that most inopportune moment, Rachel’s husband, Jim, stepped out on the patio. Her laughter faded when she saw that he seemed to be dismayed by the frenzied foolishness in the back yard. As their eyes met, a hotdog bounced off Rachel’s head and she instinctively caught it. After raising one eyebrow in her direction, Jim went back in the house. Rachel sighed and tossed Sam the hotdog, which he swallowed in one gulp.
Two hours later, all evidence of the party had been cleared away and all four children were bathed and in bed. Rachel found Jim in the den, stretched out on the couch. Picking up his feet, she settled herself on the far end of the couch with his feet in her lap.
“Okay, Jim. Your disapproval has been glaring at me like a neon sign all evening. Now, explain to me why you’re so upset.”
Jim began calmly enough. “Rachel, you should have put a stop to that foolishness the minute it started. Wasting good food? Throwing it? Spraying sticky lemonade all over each other? What does that say to our kids? I want them to grow up to be mature, responsible adults, respectful of authority.” His voice had become passionate as he vented his concerns.
“Ooooh, Jim, do I hear a sermon coming on?” she gently teased.
Jim ran his fingers through his hair, leaving tufts pointing every which way. “Well, maybe you need one, Rach. You’re supposed to set an example, and instead you’re like – the ringleader! We’re the adults in this house. We’re supposed to put away childish things.”
“Woop! There it is! I knew there was going to be a Bible verse in there somewhere.” Rachel blew a kiss at Jim and began rubbing his feet. “Yes, my darling, I do know that verse from First Corinthians, Chapter 13. Goes something like ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.’” She began tickling the bottom of his foot, smiling as he tried to wiggle loose. “Did I get that right?”
“Yes, wife of mine, you did.” He let out a sigh that was only mildly exasperated. “And quit tickling my feet!”
“I don’t believe I will,” she giggled, starting on the other foot. “Jim, those hotdogs had been sitting on the picnic table for two hours. No way was I saving that food so we could all die of food poisoning! Sam was going to get all the leftover hotdogs anyway. He just got them a little sooner. And spraying the lemonade outside didn’t harm anything or anybody. The kids came straight in for their baths, so they were only sticky for a few minutes.”
“But I don’t want my kids starting food fights at school or thinking it’s okay to waste things.”
“They won’t. We have good kids, Jim. But they are just children, and that means being silly sometimes.”
Jim sat up and rested his elbows on his knees, rubbing his forehead in a tired gesture. “All right. I guess I over-reacted. Nobody was really doing anything wrong.”
Rachel slid over behind him and began massaging his neck. “I know you’ve been putting in a lot of hours lately. But you need to relax, honey, and enjoy the fun times with your children. After all, (a-hem) I believe it says in the Bible that unless you become as a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“Woman, are you quoting scripture to me?”
“I certainly am,” laughed Rachel. “What’s the matter? You can’t take it when it’s tossed back in your direction?”
“Hey, I can catch anything you throw at me,” he challenged.
“Then catch this!” she chuckled softly as she wrapped her arms around his neck and swooped in for a kiss.
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