Sammy trundled out the back door of Jim Murphy's rectory and over to where I was sitting on an old lawn chair under the apple tree. It'd been a hard morning and all I wanted was a nice quiet early afternoon. By myself.
No such luck.
"How come you're not asleep?" I asked him. I wanted to still be mad at him, but looking down into that innocent little face, it was hard to be.
" 'Cause I'm awake." He answered, in that matter of fact voice he had. "Daddy?"
"You're supposed to be upstairs with Dean. You're being punished."
When I woke up that morning, Dean and Sam were nowhere in sight. Since I was there to help Jim with a spirit that was leading kids away from their homes and into the woods on freezing cold nights, I got frantic, quickly.
I stayed frantic, even though it took only about fifteen minutes to find them a quarter mile away at the lake, with twine tied to sticks, and pine cones tied to the twine, saying they were pretend fishing. I was frantic and relieved and ready to lock them in a room for the rest of their lives for scaring me like that. Instead I settled for reading them the riot act and sending them upstairs for the rest of the day while I went into the yard and tried to recover from the scare of losing them. Even so briefly.
"Dean tolded me go be punished someplace else. He said I was asking too many questions. Daddy?"
He wrapped his hands around the arm of the lawn chair and twisted himself back and forth on his bare feet on the grass.
"I bet you were." I said. Dean was nine, Sam was closing in on five, and if he was awake, he was asking questions.
"Daddy? What's persimmons?"
"Persimmons? They're fruit, berries, I guess."
"Does people eats them?"
"Does lotsa peoples eats them?"
"I don't know. I guess."
"Are they hard to get?"
"I don't know, I've never tried to get any."
He twisted some more on his feet, back and forth in the grass, letting his weight fall back, supported himself with his hands still on the arm of the lawn chair.
"Is it easy t'get Guinness?"
"Yeah, if you're legal drinking age." I laughed at his question.
"Oh." He said again, I couldn't tell though if I'd solved his problem.
"Why? You planning a night out?"
"Nah." He answered with all seriousness. He let go of the chair and climbed himself into my lap. I set my journal on the grass and let Sammy pull my arms around himself as he fidgeted and fiddled and fit himself into my lap.
We sat there awhile. His questions seemed at a momentary end as he found his customary spot in my arms, with his ear over my heart and his bare toes curled one foot over the other.
"So, why're you asking about persimmons and beer?"
"S'what Pastor Jim said." He answered, sounding like he'd be falling asleep soon.
"What he said about what?"
"…'bout me n'Dean…what he tolded you when you tolded us t'go to bed 'cause we been bad and we went upstairs."
"If you were upstairs, how'd you hear what Jim said?"
"We was list'ning at the register."
"Oh…" I was going to have to remember that. "So, what did Jim say that you heard at the register?"
"He said when you said how come me n'Dean was bad and didn't ask could we go back to the creek and we went without asking 'cause you wouldn't a'tolded us we could go. He said we didn't ask 'cause we knew."
"Knew what?" I had to ask since it didn't seem Sammy realized he hadn't actually told me anything yet. He yawned and burrowed in closer to me.
"That Guinness is easier to get than persimmons."
It took me a minute to figure it out, and when I did I started to laugh. Harder than I thought I'd laughed in a long time.
"What?" Sammy demanded of me, sitting up to look at me. "What's so funny, Daddy?"
"You are kiddo. You're funny. C'mon." I grabbed my journal off the grass and stood up, tucking Sammy at my shoulder. "Let's get Dean and see if Jim has any real fishing poles we can use."
Sammy cheered in my ear and wrapped his arms around my neck.
"I love you, Daddy."
"I love you too kiddo."
Forgiveness is easier to get than permission…