“I am not young enough to know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
He sweetly scribbled lines and named them Mom, Dad, Balloon, and Grasses, respectively. I bit my lip and doodled my signature across checks. I’ll mail them in, begrudgingly, because water costs money and what the hell kind of communist crap is this and also Global Warming and damn interest rates and dead polar bears and starving kids in Africa, too. He hummed “Twinkle Star”, voice skipping like a pig-tailed Girl Scout. I mostly bah-humbugged.
Then we read.
I studied a Huffington Post article about the importance of recreational time in adulthood. This Dr. Dayton insists that “Grown ups forget to play. But play, it turns out, is just as important for adults as it is for children.” I was midway through the text when I lost concentration. Thomas, newly three and sure in his abilities, laughed and “read” through a pile of picture books beside me: “Hey girl, hey girl, BEAR! Hey girl, hey girl, APPLE! Hey girl, WOO WOO TRUCKS! Hey girl, hey girl PWINCESS LIZZORD BORD (Princess Lizard Bird)!”. I didn’t pause to wonder who taught him to read like a sassy call girl. “Not now,” I shoot him The Eye, “I’m trying to really read”.
We jumped about, too.
I am face-flat on the floor, turning my head to side for air to cool my red face. Two minutes into some Buns & Thighs video and I am feeling the burn of a thousand hells. “Stop smiling. God., ” I pant at the boy, who’s busy completing Mountain Climbers and High Knees with the fervor of a Red Bull chugging cheetah. “I’s esser-skizings, Moms! I’s doin’ oga. Look, Moms. Look at my oga!,” he balances his weight on a foot and a head. Downward Puppy. I’m proud but mostly furious my body doesn’t work that way. I tell him to cut it out because he’ll snap his neck… or squats shame me.
Of course, we step (run) outside for fresh air.
My son runs after a ball, rides his bike around the loop, builds two rock castles and checks the mail before I’ve managed to close the door behind us. He lugs a bucket and some old gardening tools to the curb where filthy sand and dirt collect. Leftovers from our nasty streets that didn’t quite make it to the sewage drain. “GOLD!,” he hollers. I am squinting and a little cold in the arms and a little hot in the armpits and a little achy in the feet. I can’t find glasses.”Stupid ass sunshine, all sunny and sh*t,” I think in my head and I can see my grouchy, old lady self shaking a hateful fist at the glowing sun. I’m a little alarmed at this, that bright light gets me all hostile, but I am too busy preparing to yell at imaginary neighbor kids to “Keep your god damn balls out of my yard, you raggamuffin hooligan hoodlum riff raff!”. ”Tweasure leaf, Mom! Tweasure!,” he grasps a crispy, crumbling leaf in the palm of his happy hands. I tell him to drop it. People catch the SARS that way.
Before nap, a little music time.
For the first time today we are on the same page, YouTube, listening to a new release from one of my favorite artists. The song talks of snowball fights and bicycles and make-believe, big plans for rocket ships and bigger plans to soar with them. Thomas bobs his head and taps his toes immediately familiar with this beat. But I hesitate, a little new to all this talk of play and youth and fun-without-a-tax-credit-at-the-end-of-it. By the end we are both singing.
And I am apologizing to the sun for hating its generally sunny disposition.
And I am ready to hey girl, hey girl turn off the computer and listen to my boy’s abstract literary interpretations.
And I am still pissed we have to pay so much for water, but I’m working on it, okay?
And I’m hoping I can remember the importance of really playing.
And I am praying he’ll never forget.
Have you played today?