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evening playtimeThis is one of my favorite poems about family life, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I love the mental picture in my mind of the children sneaking up on the father, and he joins in and plays with them, I am assuming for awhile, as it is titled the Children’s Hour.

I love the description of them playing with their father; this is the realistic part of the poem.

The last two stanzas are especially poignant, as the poet moves from bedtime storiesrealism to symbolism as the father spends time with his children.

Aren’t our children in the “round-towers of our hearts” and we keep them there “forever and a day”? I do, and I know so many who are like minded.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to turn off the television, the computer, the cell phone, and any other electronics or other distractions. and take an hour to play with our children in the evening?

Our home was much like this, and we all loved taking part. We did not watch television until the girls were in high school, except for selected movies (usually rentals) or a special show. We had a computer, but the internet was not available until the girls were older. Cell phones didn’t appear until the girls got their licenses (and a membership with AAA!).

We enjoyed some time together, a prayer, and then my husband usually read to them from an adventurous book. I was reading to them a lot during the day as part of our school, so I was not the evening reader. The girls went through so many series this way, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” series and the “Narnia” series written by C.S. Lewis. They also heard fiction from Ancient Egypt to the time period of the Civil War and also Twentieth Century Conflicts. There was such a vast number of books that I could write about them for a long time.

We have so many fond memories of our “children’s hour”. I hope that you, despite the busyness of our lives today, can make time to play with and read to your children in the evening. You will have memories that last forever, and your children’s hearts will be with you “forever and a day”.

Mr. Longfellow can express it so much more eloquently than I can, so I give you his poem.

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,

When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow