“This, is the Ark of the Covenant, do you understand?” I stood three stairs up and bent over the small congregation of trembling follows beneath me. Their wide eyes were locked onto me in fear as I struck out with my right hand and pointed at the long box that was lying behind them on the living room floor. None of them even turned to look at it. They knew what was there. They knew why I was angry.
“You shall not play on this box. You shall not move this box. You shall not touch the box, or draw on the box. You shall not open the box. You shall not pop the bubble wrap that was inside of the box. Nothing. Do you understand me?”
They nodded vigorously. The smallest one’s jaw hung open and his teeth clacked together as his head moved up and down.
“Okay. Good. Because that is the box that is designed to hold our new Christmas tree. If this box gets damaged or destroyed, my life is going to become extremely difficult when it comes time to put the tree away. This is very important. This box needs to be good as new ten years from now. Do. Not. Touch. The box. Or you shall surely die.” I raised my eyebrows and tried to be as intimidating as possible.
They looked at each other and then back at me. The oldest slowly turned her head and tried to glance over her shoulder.
“Stop!” I yelled. “Do not look at it! Do not touch it even with your eyes!”
With this, the three of them gasped and bolted down the stairs into the basement.
I sighed relief. Perhaps their tiny little ears heard me this time. Perhaps the box would survive at least a few years, before getting transformed into a play fort or being chopped up and turned into pretend firewood for some dark ritualistic fire. I wandered up the stairs to my room, where I could do some reading in peace.
A short while later I heard a strange noise coming from the hallway. It sounded like a loud party was suddenly going on in my living room. I launched myself down the stairs. There in the living room, I found two of my children kneeling on either side of the forbidden box. Tea cups, saucers, and a pink plastic teapot were scattered between them. A third child was sitting cross-legged on top of the box and he was currently banging his cup against the side and chanting “More tea! More tea! More tea!”
“Hey! Hey!” I called for their attention. “What on earth are you doing?! This is not allowed. You can not do this in the law of our home! I was only gone for like ten minutes and I come back to find this!? I trusted you!” If I had been carrying stone tablets I would have shattered them against the wall.
“No no no!” they scurried around and hid behind the box. “We did just what you said! We haven’t touched it. We didn’t even look at the box, Dad. See,” the oldest motioning slowly with her arms as if revealing something I would be extremely proud of if only I would understand, “We got a blanket from downstairs and carried it backward and covered it the box with it. That way we could do anything we wanted up here and not worry about touching you box, just like you said!” She smiled. The other two looked at her and then matched her smile and looked back at me. They held the smile for an uncomfortably long time before it slowly faded and they realized their fate.
And with that, my children discovered that all law is imperfect. And you can not be saved by your personal interpretation of said law.