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KIDS BELIEVE

“What time is it, Mr. Fox?”

Hendrix was four years old. His parents named him after the famous guitarist Jimi Hendrix. His father was a musician and greatly admired the music idol so much he named his first son after the famous rock star.

Hendrix had natural talent athletically, but he had a problem. He believed. He believed so completely, he had trouble separating fact from fiction and pretend from reality.

The dreaded pretend activity was the dribbling game called “What time is it Mr. Fox”? We played it with the four and five year olds the year I taught the introductory basketball class at the YMCA to teach the kids how to dribble. Hendrix thought it was real. Try as we did to convince him that it was only a game, and that I, Coach Chris, was not a fox, when the game was in full swing, he couldn’t believe it.

Here is how the game worked. Each four or five year old would line up on the end line of the basketball court with a tiny kid-sized basketball. As Mr. Fox, I would go to the mid-court line. In unison, the kids would shout to me, “What time is it Mr. Fox?” In response, with a sinister look and a playful snarl on my lips, I would rub my hands together and say, “It’s five o’clock.” The tykes would then walk toward me and count out five dribbles as they bounced their balls.

In a perfect world, they would all catch their balls in the fifth dribble, come to a stop, and still be in a straight line. But usually half of the fifteen or so kids dribbled their balls on their feet, or knees and the balls would scatter bouncing wildly all over the gym floor. Then they would chase their errant basketballs across the gym floor, grab them, run back to the approximate place where they lost control and come to a stop holding their pint-sized ball. Hopefully, as the weeks went on, their dribbling would improve—but not always.

When all the kids were back in position again, they would repeat in chorus, “What time is it Mr. Fox”? My response may have been, It’s nine o’clock, or three o’clock, or six o’clock, or two o’clock. And they would all begin the walk, count, and errant dribbling routine again.

Because they were getting closer to me, I would continue to back up until my back was against the opposite wall from where the activity began. Until finally, when the little ones were very close to me, in answer to their question I would utter the dreaded words, “It’s dinnertime.” At which, the kids would all scream, turn around and flee back to their starting point clutching their balls and running for dear life from me, or should I say, Mr. Fox, in close pursuit.

The slowest one was caught by Mr. Fox and playfully grabbed up and gobbled up pretend-style….

Hendrix was the slowest the first time he played so he was caught. When I caught him and held him in my arms as I ran, his tiny eyes looked at me in horror. His mouth was open as though ready to scream, and as I dropped my head into his tummy and faked a gobbling sound, Hendrix began to wail in mortal terror. A bit frightened myself, I stopped up short and brought him over to his mother who was sitting on the bleachers watching.

She said, “Hendrix, it’s just pretend. Coach isn’t really a fox. He is just pretending to be a fox. It’s part of the game.”

But from that point on we were never able to convince Hendrix to give the game a try. He would go over to his mother on the bleachers and curl up next to her whenever we played the game. About the fourth class we decided to forgo the game because it was just too traumatizing for Hendrix.

Why? Because, kids believe. They believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, leprechauns, pots of gold at the ends of rainbows, alligators under their beds, the Boogie Man, Peter Pan and unicorns—and God. Kids believe.

Now granted, most of these, as well as Mr. Fox, are fairytales. And once kids begin to get older, smarter, more world-wise, more informed, more educated and more adult, they cease believing. The first to go is Santa, and the rest of the fairytales follow in time, and should. Unfortunately, the greatest truth and soundest reality that exists in our world, God, is often considered not believable right along with the fairytales.

There is no evidence for Santa or the Easter Bunny; and we are wise to abandon our belief in them when we come of age. But there is a wealth of evidence for God, including historical and archeological records. To abandon belief in Him, ascribing Him fairytale status, is the ultimate act of foolhardiness, especially considering the consequences His word warns about for doing so.

Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mark 10:15).

I would love to hear from you! Email me: chris@chrisschimel.com or Facebook.

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