Last night Lydia and I had just a few moments alone. Somehow we stumbled upon a rare moment with no one else in her room before bedtime. No crying babies, or big sisters pushing her aside to get between us. So, I asked her what she wanted to do. She immediately climbed under her bed and came out with a small purple ball.

“I want to play ball, Daddy.” She said and she sat down across from me with her legs in a V so we could roll the ball back and forth.

This is not a very exciting game though. It has apparently been some time since we last played it and she had forgotten just how simple it is. With every roll she scooted further and further back until she was the entire length of the room away. However, even this wasn’t challenging enough for her, and within minutes the game had evolved from rolling to bouncing and then to simply a playful game of catch.

The throwing began as simple under hand tossing, and then turned to over hand lobs that sailed high up in the air and came down on the other player’s head. But even this activity grew stale apparently, because the little girl slowly started practicing throwing the ball as hard and as straight as she possibly could. She has a pretty good throw for a 3 year old. And she was impressed with my ability to catch the ball regardless of how violently and erratically she threw it at me.

This is when she devised a new game.

“Okay.” She said, holding the tiny leather ball. “Close your eyes now.”

“Close my eyes?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said. “Close your eyes. I have a surprise game.”

I considered this for a moment. “I don’t like surprise games.” I told her.

“No.” She insisted. “Close your eyes. I have a new game. It’s fun.”

I narrowed my eyes at the innocent little girl. “Does this game involve hitting me in the face with the ball?” I asked.

“It’s a surprise.” was her only response. “It’s fun.”

I sighed. Hesitantly I lifted my hands up and covered my face. Through the gaps in my fingers I saw her face light up with childish joy, and the next moment all I could see was purple surrounded by painful dancing stars.