It was 40 degrees in the Blue Ridge mountains, so a dip in the porch jacuzzi seemed like a good shock to our spring break cabin adventure. My in-laws established this annual tradition which I’ve come to love. Partly because of the change of scenery from the Florida flatlands, but also because I get loads of alone time to explore my inner Daniel Boone.
Earlier that day my wife and kids were being entertained by “Bio and Bia”. I noticed this golden opportunity and casually mumbled, “I’m going to look into a thing I saw downstairs. Nothing interesting. Carry on.” I slipped silently down the stairs to the basement without arousing suspicion. Alone at last with my book, the frigid mountain air, and a jacuzzi. Life didn’t get much better than this.
I stripped down to my shorts, brazenly shook my fist at the icy 40-degree breeze, and jumped into the steamy, bubbling jacuzzi. In the distance, a lone wolf howled in solidarity and a chipmunk scampered up the jacuzzi and gave me a high five. I pulled out A Beginner’s Guide to Rugged Mountain Life and soaked in this rare oasis of solitude. The combination of crisp mountain air and hot, fizzy water was both invigorating and relaxing. On this lonely mountain top, Eden was a wrap around porch and the tree of life was a jacuzzi.
Suddenly, my effervescent meditation was abruptly popped when my four-year-old burst through the door yelling, “I FOUND YOU!!” and immediately slammed the door shut. I screeched like a wounded animal and my Beginner’s Guide fumbled from one hand to the other, barely escaping a hot, watery grave. “PAPI!! IT’S C-COOOLD!” he yelled through the window. Confusion and fascination were written across his face as he saw this magical, boiling mini-pool on the edge of a forest.
At that point, I had a choice. I could dismiss him back to the rest of the tribe and continue with my effervescent Eden experience, or I could embrace the interruption and invite him to join in. I wish I could say I always embrace the interruption, but alas… I’ve chosen the TV or the phone over the child many times. This time, however…I made a lasting choice.
“Wanna come in?” I asked. His eyes widened as he reconciled taking his clothes off in freezing weather, then jumping in water. “SI!!!!!” It didn’t take him long. Donning his spiderman tighty-whities, he cautiously stepped into the jacuzzi, beaming with excitement. “Papi! It’s cold up here…but it’s hot down here!” he pointed out.
We dove underwater and explored the aquatic caverns of the Mariana Trench. Hot lava jet streams threatened our deep sea diver suits and spewed bubbles around us. Strange formations that resembled steps rose for miles to the surface. A giant oarfish swam gracefully between us. Suddenly, from the distant beyond, we heard a mermaid call, distorted by the lava jets and millions of gallons of water above us. We regulated our suits and rose to the surface and found my wife, wearing a jacket instead of a sea-shell bra, informing us that dinner was ready. Our adventure ended, but a special memory had been created.
I don’t know what it’s like to have children grow up and become more independent…but I’ve seen Toy Story 3, so I know how this will eventually play out. For that reason, my prayer is that I will see these “interruptions” as unique opportunities to win the heart of my children. One day, there will be other contestants in the battle for their heart. Some will be good, some will be bad. My role is to guard their heart while they’re under my care, so when they depart, they will understand who they are and whose they are.
Parenting isn’t always a jacuzzi adventure, but it is a series of decisions that form the building blocks of our children. I have built up the blocks, only to topple them later on. I’ve taken relational moments and squandered them on fruitless activities. This is where God’s grace steps in and allows our parenting victories to eclipse the failures… when relaxing jacuzzi escapes become wondrous, memorable explorations of Atlantis.