As parents, we’ve all heard this adage more times than we care to count:
For kids, LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E.
Cos spending time with them is the best sign that we the parents care and love them. Many have even gone on to qualify that it’s not just about Quality time; it’s also about Quantity time. In short, both are equally important.
However, I wanted to go one step farther here, and say that LOVE is also spelled:
Yesterday evening, I brought my two boys over to the home of my cell group leader (CGL). This was for our weekly church cell meeting (for the adults) and play date (for the kids). Just to be clear, we kept to guidelines set by our country’s political leaders – no more than five guests in a home at any one time.
So the three of us, plus our CGL’s cousin and the cousin’s young daughter, exactly equalled five (insert bicep flexing emoji here).
The meetings have been happening via Zoom from the time of the coronavirus lockdown in April. But since the five guests rule came in a few weeks ago as we slowly relaxed nation-wide restrictions, those cell members with younger kids were able to meet in person at our CGL’s place.
Always mindful of course to maintain the 1 metre social distancing.
With my CGL’s own young son, there were exactly four kids below 12. Or I should say 3+1, cos the three older ones tended to play by themselves upstairs without my youngest son. Meaning, my dear Caleb had the vast living room on the ground floor of my CGL’s three-and-a-half storey terrace house all to himself.
With all his toys quickly emptied out of his bag and strewn everywhere (mainly trucks, buses and other vehicles, as well as makeshift cardboard road humps cut from toilet rolls), he was all set.
For the first hour at least.
However, after that hour had passed, and when the adults were well into our cell Zoom meeting, sharing our recent challenges and prayer requests, my dear boy started getting restless.
“Daddy, look at my road humps!”
“Daddy, come and sit with me.”
“Daddy, look! Look! Look!”
I had to mute my microphone several times as he kept pulling and tugging at me to play with him or to watch what he was doing.
Feeling torn and slightly frustrated, I tried a few times to distract him with other toys and even some potato chips. Was glad for both the option to mute my mike as well as switch off the camera, so that the other cell members don’t get distracted too. It did mean though that I wasn’t always able to focus on the discussions. In fact, due to technical shenanigans, Zoom even ‘kicked me out’ of the meeting at least four times throughout the two-hour session!
Maybe that was a sign from on high?
At one point, Caleb decided it was really fun to grab my waist from behind and pull me down on top of him as we tumbled onto the sofa. He seemed to get a big kick out of it and laughed raucously each time.
Looking back at him with annoyance at first, I couldn’t help but see the simple joy this playful romp gave my nine year old. It dawned on me that while most dads would have been miffed not just by the interruption, but by the fact that his kid was acting half his age, I saw the joy on his face when he saw me looking at him and breaking into my best fatherly grin.
It clearly meant a lot to him, and by extension, to me.
Looking at the Zoom meeting screen suddenly seemed like the dullest thing anyone could be doing right there and then.
So, I continued to mute my mike and turn off my camera.
But this time, unknown to my cell members, I also removed my cabled earphones, plugged in my wireless Apple Air Pod to stay in the Zoom, got out of the comfy armchair and lunged after my squeeling son as we tumbled joyfully onto the sofa.
And all because he saw my Look. And found my Love.