About a decade earlier I was doing something "important" at grad school,commuting to Orlando twice a week. As I drove toward another degree, Kimberly and I were raising two children, a boy and a girl and welcoming the third into our home. I had been fairly hands-on with Will, now 15 (then 6) and was enjoying his new stage of post-toddler independence as a pretext for making more time to study. Kimberly's home-work was just as strenuous and even more important, focused on the heart and heritage of our home. Wisely, one day she confronted me over the seemingly benign distance I had allowed between my firstborn and me: "You know, Bill," she began calmly, "Your son Will is a really cool kid. You should get to know him."
Have you ever heard of a smart bomb? A smart bomb is a precision-guided munition. With surgical accuracy, a smart bomb hits and destroys precisely what is targeted, no more. Kimberly's rebuke was like a smart bomb in my heart, aimed at my selfish inwardness. Conquered, my broken heart found new resolve to not let Will's childhood escape my notice. Last night I enjoyed the spoils of victory, sitting at the dining room table for an hour with Will and Madison (13) for a laugh-at-stupid-videos session initiated by them. A great waste of time. Smart bombs break our souls free from the dungeons of self-importance and feigned efficiency; a wife's wise reproof can turn us from the bondage of self-imposed routine into the "wasted" activity of liberated play with a six year old.
Now at the table with the other six year old, I am flooded with the memory of my previous indifference and the effect of the smart bomb. I am enjoying this interaction: Payton putting mayo on his chicken strips; Payton offering to share his waffle fries; trying to negotiate six inches of softswirl ice cream; lecturing dad on ethics ("cops can't get busted" / "ice cream has no laws"). What if I had missed this opportunity? Thank God for the wisdom of a wife who knows how to arm and aim a smart bomb. Thank God for this moment in which the important is not evident and the "waste" of time becomes the seed of a fruitful, future relationship.