My son loves to make tents.
If you secure a sheet or blanket to a lamp – and then drape it over a random piece of furniture – he’s a happy “camper.”
We’ve built some monster tents in the last few months – even using the ceiling fan as an anchor point. The more elaborate the better.
“We might need one more blanket, daddy…”
“Do you think you can put this way up there, daddy….”
“Our tent needs a sun porch, daddy….”
The funny thing, Crash loves building and playing in these tents, but he doesn’t want to sleep in them for some reason. He’s actually pretty adamant against it.
I wondered how he would respond to the chance to sleep in a real tent. Would he actually do it?
Well, that opportunity recently presented itself….
ME: “Do you want to sleep in daddy’s tent outside?”
CRASH (without hesitation): “Yes. Please.”
He jumped all over it.
I had my doubts.
– – –
We pitched my tent on my folks’ 40 acres. We definitely weren’t in the middle of nowhere, but we weren’t in the living room anymore either.
I had camped for a couple days by myself, but I wanted to invite him on the adventure the last night. Again, I was not sure how this was going to play out.
Before we turned in for the night…
We gathered wood and made a small fire.
We did our “camp chores.”
We listened to music and sang. (He loves God Bless America)
And as dusk faded away, we read one of his favorite books by flashlight inside the tent.
Then, it was time to close our eyes and go to sleep.
Things were going great, but I was preparing myself for a “let’s go back to the house, daddy!”
It never came.
We did, however, play a rousing game of “what if” as the sounds of the night were creeping into our tent.
“What if a raccoon gets in our tent, daddy?”
“What if a skunk sprays us through the window, daddy?”
“What if a bad guy knocks down our tent, daddy?”
I wouldn’t go as far to say that my 4-year-old son was scared, but he was definitely uneasy.
I answered each one of his questions with care, but after Question 43, I simply said:
“Crash, I love you more than life itself. You’re my boy. I will never let anything happen to you. Plus, God is watching over both of us. There is nothing
to be scared of.”
“I know, daddy.”
There were no more questions.
The next thing I knew, my 4-year-old son was snoring like a grown man.
– – –
Just before sunrise, however, a storm blew in.
In an instance, the rain was loud. The strong wind rattled the tent.
My son just kept sleeping.
I smiled and thought about a wonderfully great story in Mitch Albom’s book, Have a Little Faith.
This is an excerpt from a sermon given by Albom’s rabbi in 1975, and I thought it was appropriate to share:
“A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, ‘He sleeps in a storm.’
“The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.
“Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.
“Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.
“So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.
“He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.
“He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.
“And then he understands. ‘He sleeps in a storm.’
This is the part of the sermon that I thought about as my son slept soundly, the rain pelting the nylon tent:
“My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces tight. We will never wallow in the agony of ‘I could have, I should have.’ We can sleep in a storm.
“And when it’s time, our good-byes will be complete.”
– – –
The clatter of thunder eventually woke up The Boy.
Again, I was waiting for the “I’ve had enough…let’s go” – but it never came. He simply grabbed the blanket, pulled it up to his chin and smiled.
“This is so cozy, daddy.”
We laid there for 30 to 45 minutes, just listening to the wind, rain and thunder.
I thought about all the wonderfully great moments that I’ve already had as a father, and I decided that instance was close to the very top of the list.