For weeks, preparations, planning, and discussions about design and strategy took place. Something big was on the horizon, and my son and his good buddy were afire with how they wanted it to happen. The amount of time they dedicated to preparation was noteworthy—and so was the fun they had in doing it.

The event? A neighborhood Nerf war. A bunch of boys picked a date to have a shootout to decide who was #1 in the Nerf world on our street. The last man standing would be the winner. The boys wanted to make sure they were prepared, and so they really got into it. My son wanted to buy a $30 vest that would hold his Nerf gear. After he heard a very clear and resounding “no” that definitely had the tone of “are you out of your flippin’ mind?” he realized he needed to follow his father’s and my suggestion to create what he needed. What followed was a wonderful think tank of my son and his friend. I just loved watching their imaginations catch fire. They did indeed come up with some very clever answers to their needs, and they were proud of their handiwork.

After a few weeks of strategizing and creating, they were ready. It was finally the afternoon of the showdown. This is where all of their hard work was leading…

 

Nerf

 

Ready…aim…fire!

It was over in ten minutes.

Who won is not important. (Okay, it was my kid.) They kind of giggled at how fast it all went down—but there was no regret in any of it. Not in the time they took to prepare or the speed in which it all culminated…Because all of it was fun.

As kids, so much of the fun is in the planning and anticipating. The actual thing is often secondary. I’m sometimes guilty of keeping my kid on a “need to know” basis (usually because I just forget), but he has told me that he wishes I would tell him about things earlier so that he is not only aware of it but can look forward to it, too. So I’m trying to remember not to be so scatterbrained (a bit of a catch-22) so that my son can have more joy of anticipation. And I think his desire for that is wonderful.

I can remember plenty of times when I was a kid where the figuring out and the setting up was so much of the fun—sometimes the main part. My friend Jen and I would decide we were going “camping,” so we would engineer a make-shift tent with a tarp and poles—we never much went for the store bought stuff because…what fun was that? And we would finally get it all set up and hang out in it just for a bit before it was time to take it all down and go in for dinner. And that was just fine with us.

 

a classic blanket fort
a classic blanket fort from a few years back

 

I remember one time my sister and I were building forts in our basement. There were different sections to the basement, and one of them was a nice little room with a TV and a couple sofas. She claimed she wanted that space, so of course, I wanted it, too. I felt so victorious when she gave in and said I could have it. Ah-HA! I got the great room! And so I flopped on the sofa and watched some TV…but I could hear my sister very busy on the other end of the basement. I peeked over in curiosity and saw that she had half of the Ping-Pong table down and had covered it with blankets. Light was emanating from underneath. I had to go check it out. Sure enough, my sister had built an awesome fort with its own groovy light and everything! My victory was hollow…the real fun was had in building the fort and then hanging out in it. Being the generous sister, though, she did let me look inside her fort to see how cool it was, but then she told me I had to go back to my place. Ah, big sisters…

Certainly there are plenty of times where the destination is by far the biggest slice of the pie, but even then we must not forget the journey. Yes, a long car ride to an amusement park or a nerve-wracking flight to vacation may not be the best of journeys to savor, but they still merit appreciation.

 

map

 

A life lived in the “are we there yet?” mentality will mean that only bits and pieces of life will truly be lived and enjoyed.

That is simply not enough.

If you read my recent crossroads post, you know that I am at the beginning of a journey in which I do not know the destination. Naturally, as an adult with responsibilities, this puts a ton of additional stress on me. But even during this anxious time, I know I need to be more like the kid I was who truly felt the value of the dream as the dream…of the journey as the destination.

If all I do is look and pray for the end game, then I may once again find myself quickly maneuvering for the basement TV room rather than the wonderful Ping-Pong fort.

And this time around…I really want to enjoy building the fort.

 

All photos are my own.
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