I took my kids to “the Tubes” this morning for some playtime. The Tubes are, as I’ve written before and as you might imagine, a large, indoor playground consisting of an endless series of large plastic tubes. Children climb through the tubes, scale the netting, and slide down another long tube. Somewhere along the way, I am convinced they are required to capture a flag and then plant it at the summit as a mark of their paramilitary prowess. It’s not unlike Marine Corps boot camp.
On this fine 102 degree Texas morning the tubes – in the air conditioned and fairly dark interior of the local Bible Church – seemed like the place for a quiet and energy-zapping excursion. Tire them out, bring ’em home, nap time.
From the moment we arrived, however, I could tell something was different than most other times we’ve been to these tubes…
High above me I could hear the faint whispers of Alpha Company.
“We’ve got to rescue Timmy!” cried one excited yet hushed voice.
“Here’s the plan,” whispered another “we come at them from the yellow slide. Landon, you’re the tallest. You go down head first and punch them in the teeth. Then Skyler will follow with his signature throat chopper…”
What exactly was I listening to, I wondered. From another section of the tubes I could hear the counterassault being planned.
“Chris, guard Timmy with your life and for God’s sake don’t let him trick you! Cooper, be on guard for, well, just be on guard. Skyler, you run out and create a di-ber-geon.”
Other than the slight difference in the pitches of these voices I could barely tell if I was listening to the voices of little boys or little girls. The names certainly didn’t help.
I cautioned my own kids: “Listen, kids, I don’t know what’s going on up there; but go and play and try to stay out of their way. Got it?”
They nodded at me and happily ran up the first set of padded steps. Funny, I thought , playgrounds today are so “safe” with all their foam coverings and plastic and generally boring designs so as to keep any child from ever experiencing a whiff of the pains of life and yet the SWAT teams above me seem to have found a way around that. All the while I could hear poor Timmy whimpering. Couldn’t tell if he was injured or trying for that “di-ber-geon” spoken of by Tyler or Taylor. Screaming erupted briefly. I think Landon figured out that Timmy was faking his injuries. “Shut your mouth, Timmy, or I’ll shut it for you!” Holy God we praise thy name… Was I still in Texas or had I migrated to Juarez?
At one point a summit appeared to be taking place. Through the rope nets I could see what looked like three boys and three girls sitting around in a circle, gesticulating wildly. “You want what?! Do I look like I was born yesterday?” bellowed one of the girl figures. I could take this farce no longer. With a slight bit of fear in my heart and an equal part of amused bewilderment not uncommon to me considering how often I find myself in these bizarre situations, I looked up.
“Skyler? Landon? Shaniqua? Hate to be the one to break it to you but you kind of were born yesterday in the grand scheme of things. Timmy? Timmy? You OK up there, buddy?”
I don’t remember what their words were that finally broke the stillness but I think they were something like “Kill the tall one!” It would appear I had unified the opposing forces and freed Timmy at the same time. See, and you didn’t know I was a peacemaker.
“Quickly kids, let’s go!” I yelled at my own two kids and their cousin Campbell as we bolted for safety. With one over my shoulder and the other clinging to my leg I took giant strides toward the parking lot and back to the law and order for which the great state of Texas is known. Clearly, the Tubes were some kind of extraterritorial property of the Soviet Gulag.
Here’s hoping Timmy doesn’t get recaptured… or they just might take him down.