Some parts of my childhood were absolutely perfect.
We were kids. We played.
We loved to play Hide and Seek. A big group of us would gather up in my grandmother's driveway, which was at the end of our dead end street. There would be heated arguments about who had to be "It" first, usually decided by (anyone remember this?) everyone putting their fists in the circle while someone started:
Bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish, how many pieces do you wish?
Then we'd hide. We'd hide in the garage and in the woods and behind the lilac bushes and behind the neighbors' cars and up in trees and under the steps. We'd hide while the sun was setting, praying our parents wouldn't call us in before we were found. We'd hide, chests heaving with anticipation, trying to quiet our breaths, and hear a scream and the pounding of footsteps as someone was discovered and tried to make a mad dash to home base or whatever we called it before they were tagged. We hid and in that moment there was nothing but our breath and pounding heart and the straining of our ears to hear if Someone was coming to get us.
We were absolutely, completely present in the moment. We weren't thinking about what happened at school that day or what would happen tomorrow. And when whoever was It jumped out from somewhere and spotted us and we had that feeling of our stomach jumping into our throat as we tried to get away, we ran and we laughed and we laughed and we ran and everything in that crazy moment was completely wonderful.
This is how I want to play today, decades later. This is how I want to live. Sometimes days go by, and they weren't even horrible days, yet I realize I barely laughed. Sometimes I catch myself saying "Hurry up," again and again to the kids, as if all we are ever doing is rushing to get somewhere. Sometimes when I work on the Floortime stuff with Ethan every fiber of my being just doesn't want to play...it wants to read a magazine or do the bills or go online or wipe crumbs off the table. Sometimes even when I am playing I am thinking of what the teacher said or the doctor's appointment to schedule or what to make for dinner.
But then something taps on my shoulder and gently reminds me. The wind whips my hair into my mouth and Ethan announces he's going to count. I race up the hill and behind a tree and remember every good thing there is about being a kid, and that we shouldn't pack those things away.
Maybe, in fact, we need those things now more than ever.