I've been fortunate the past few years to be able to tag along with the boys on their Kiddie Kingdom trips to the strawberry patch. Yesterday was Ian's annual trip, and the fun began before we ever bit into the first strawberry.
On our drive to meet his class we passed the local fire department. To Ian, the firehouse will always be the place where he sits on Santa's lap, not the home of fire trucks and the brave men who battle our local fires and respond to countless emergencies. Which explains why after we had just passed it he said, "I can't wait to tell Santa what I want for Christmas."
Trying to engage him in the conversation, I replied, "Well, you're in luck, I've already let Santa know you've been a good boy this year."
Ian, never too shy to steal my thunder said, "You didn't have to tell him that, he already knows."
A moment later Ian asked me, "Daddy, how does Santa get the reindeer to take off and pull him through the air?"
Whose idea was it to engage him in this conversation? "Well, Ian, Santa is just magic that way."
"Yea, I think he is," said Ian.
The truck went quiet for a minute. Then Ian asked, "Daddy, how do babies get out of their mommies?"
What! How did we get from Santa to babies? Ian associates nothing with the delivery of babies. Not firehouses. Not strawberries. How did we get here?
I began to strategize my answer. And believe me if Ian hadn't saved me it would have been a long strategy session, but he did save me. He provided his own answer.
"I guess God does some magic too," he said. And that was it.
You can imagine how relieved I was to get to the strawberry patch. Once Ian was among his friends and the endless rows of red strawberries, he forgot all about Santa and babies. Although I'm sure both will come up again real soon.
There is no greater joy than hanging out with 4 year olds with the juice of fresh berries running down their faces. And onto their clothes. Which makes me almost as happy that I won't be the one doing their laundry. Pre-schoolers shine the innocence that comes with being completely unaware of monster tornadoes that crush equally innocent children beneath the weight of their own school buildings. We spend so much time letting our kids amaze us with all they know, when their greatest gift might be in the many things they are completely blind to.
I know my greatest gift yesterday was hanging out with a bunch of strawberry pickers. I confess, it helps that they were more than happy to hand me as many of the big ones as I could eat.