There’s a verse in an Oak Ridge Boys song, yes, you heard me right, the Oak Ridge Boys, that goes like this:
Thank God for kids, there's magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child.
I won’t try to convince you I’ve been walking around this week singing or whistling or humming my way through the song these lyrics come from, but when I was searching for a way to describe some of my thoughts as a dad recently, this song was the first to come to mind.
I’ve had a battle lately. It’s a battle I’ve brought completely upon myself. I’d have victory over it today if I disconnected cable TV, cranked the talk radio dial to “off” and slammed the door on my way out of various internet forums – blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc. Sounds like a fairly simple solution. But the truth is I like being connected – informed. The problem is there are very few, if any, media and electronic outlets that can survive by providing information alone. They become the oversized dollar signs they are by magically transforming information into influence at its best, and anger and rage at its worst.
I think of some of their magic from the past week. With just a single bunny and a couple of tall antennas, we have been led to believe that our support for abused children could only be measured by our stance for or against Penn State University, that whether or not we waited in a drive-thru at chic-fil- a was suddenly a scientific survey of one’s beliefs about gay marriage, and our level of outrage at the heinous act of a disturbed young man in Colorado was directly proportional to our acceptance or lack thereof that our countrymen have a right to bear arms. It’s the ultimate bait and switch that leaves too many replacing disappearing rabbits with misguided hatred over someone’s collegiate support or dining choices.
Some days it looks more like witchcraft than magic.
But thank God for kids, there is a magic that requires no tall towers, just smiles.
When the din of televisions, radios and the internet dies in our house, I am very grateful that the noise doesn’t stop. Not at all. Like the excitement of a child tearing through the wrapping paper to get to a gift, the wrapping paper is eventually tossed aside and forgotten – until dad is scrambling around to pick it all up and relocate it to the nearest trashcan - and all that remains is the gift.
Whether it’s Elliott asking me if I know which was bigger, the Tyrannosaurus Rex or the Spinosaurus, and yes dad, there was a Spinosaurus, to which I offer the world’s longest winded substitution for I have no idea. Or Ian telling me at bedtime, the same time they go to bed every night, that he knows I’m going to say it’s time for bed, so I tell him it’s time for bed and then watch him break into celebration over his ability to read minds. And two minutes later I walk in on the same celebration after he repeats the exact same mind reading magic on his mama. The boys are never short on smiles, or making us smile.
I’m grateful that when my rabbit disappears, I’m left holding smiles. And I’m left to believe that the nearest thing to heaven is a child.