Last Saturday my sister-in-law and her family extended a mysterious invitation for the rest of us (our family, two other brother-in-laws and their families, and Grandma) to join them for a “special activity” in a nearby park. All we knew was they needed lots of room for whatever they had planned. My guess, with the heat and the lack of rain, included about a million water balloons. Another sister-in-law thought maybe, in conjunction with the 4th of July, it might have something to do with a bottle rocket. But once we got to the park and saw the nylon bag in the middle of the field Micah knew exactly what was up. Or what would be up as soon as we got our hands on it: a parachute.

We pulled the parachute out of the bag and laid it flat on the ground. All of the available adults (there were eight of us) and the oldest 3 or 4 of the 18 children surrounded it and held onto the nylon loops. We lifted it up and down, up and down, filling it up with air. When it was full enough to make a bubble, we all scrambled underneath. The adults (and older children) sat on the inside of the parachute while the little ones ran around inside the colorful dome we had created. I remember playing with a parachute like that when I was in elementary school, but I’m pretty sure all we did was toss a couple of balls around on it. Never did I imagine there was such fun to be had playing underneath a parachute.

The dome eventually collapsed and the kids ran around on top of the parachute instead. We tried a few other things with it, but the wind was not on our side and the kids were too distracted by the bikes and playground to wait for us to get the parachute to cooperate. I’m glad we took lots and lots of pictures because although I’m sure we can do it again next time we get together — as long as it isn’t snowing outside — I’m not sure that we will have the element of surprise on our side, or as many children who enjoy it (although it is 100% possible that next time there will be even more children), or that we will be lucky enough that the kids don’t run into each other and get bloody noses and fat lips. So it’s best, I think, that we remember this particular Parachute Room as something singular, remarkable, and magical.

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