A Language We All Understand

In the movie Hook, Robin Williams plays Peter Pan—but not the adventurous, playful Peter. Instead, he portrays Peter Pan as an adult, all grown up. In this scenario, Peter Pan is a dad with kids, but he’s forgotten how to be a kid. In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, Peter snaps at his children for interrupting a business call. His wife, while throwing his phone out the window, says,

“Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack may not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast Peter. It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.”

The point of the movie is simple; if it can happen to Peter Pan, it can happen to any one of us. Peter has simply grown up and forgotten how to play. As a dad, he is missing out on the most critical years of his own children’s lives. What’s the solution? Peter has to re-learn how to have fun with his kids.

Spoiler alert: He figures it out by the end of the movie. He reclaims his relationships through an adventure and by the end of the movie, he is living like fun matters again. Now, it’s not that fun is the most important thing. However, fun is an important building block for other things. In the movie, Peter Pan loves his kids and wants to provide for them. He is not a bad dad. But while he says he loves his kids, they didn’t feel it. They need actions to back up their dad’s words and playing together is a love language kids understand.

Having fun is a language we all understand, for many reasons. To name a few, having fun reconnects what has been disconnected. Therapists have long known that playing with kids breaks down walls. When something has come between you relationally, fun can be the bridge that rebuilds trust with each other and repairs some of that relational damage. Having fun fosters resilience. Life is hard. If you want kids to grow up and push through heartbreak, tragedy and disappointment, then they need a collection of fun memories to assure them that life goes on, that the joys of living far outweigh the pain that will also inevitably show up. Having fun authenticates forgiveness. Fun may actually be one of the best ways to prove forgiveness to someone. Think about it: how easy is it to have fun with someone if you are still offended by what he or she did? Lastly, having fun brings us closer to God, because God created us to have fun. Don’t believe me? Well it’s right there in the Bible, okay maybe not the word “fun” but all of its relatives are:

“May the righteous be glad…” “Rejoice in the Lord always…” “Celebrate a festival to the Lord…” “A cheerful heart is good medicine…” “Worship the Lord with gladness…” “The fruit of the Spirit is… joy…” “They… ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” “However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” My personal favorite is from Nehemiah who said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Clearly, fun is important. I believe it needs to be a value of the church, because I believe what I already listed—having fun brings us closer to God. But I don’t think it would be fair to write this article lecturing you about the value of having fun and end there. Instead, like Peter Pan had to do for his kids, we the church need to back up our words with actions as well. So as one way to support families having fun in their own homes (without having to break the bank) we have created what we’re calling FamBox.

Each month of the summer will have a different box that families can pick up for no cost. The boxes will have a fun family activity, snack and devotional inside and each month the box is new! In case you missed the first two, our May box had a photo scavenger hunt along with a frame you could decorate to display your favorite photo, ingredients to make trail mix and a devotional about seeking God. Our June box was specifically game themed. It had the supplies and instructions for six minute-to-win-it games, plus instructions for six bonus games, ingredients for Rice Krispie bars and a devotional that encourages us to see board games as tools for life lessons. (We do offer a limited number of gluten-free boxes as well.)

While these boxes work especially well for kids in the 5-15 age range, we believe with a few creative adjustments they can reach beyond that. Plus, these boxes are fun for adults as well—there is no age limit for having fun, all those earlier reasons apply to children, teenagers and adults—having fun is important for everyone. The boxes work for parents and kids, grandparents and kids, aunts/uncles and nieces/nephews, or your closest group of friends, however you define family is up to you.

So, what will July and August hold? Well you’ll have to pick up your own box in order to find out! This summer, whether it’s FamBox, vacations, sports, cabins, whatever you do, keep having fun. It’s okay to have fun, just for fun. You were made to have fun. You were made to have fun together.

This article was inspired by the book, “Playing For Keeps” by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy.

Nicole Smalley
Director of Faith Formation: Birth to Grade 8