Monday, October 24, 2011

Hide and Seek

The kids and are outside on an unseasonably warm afternoon. The sky is awash with cotton candy clouds and the towering maple in our front yard had turned golden. While the air is warm, the wind keeps whipping everything around, churning leaves into the air around us. The sweet, earthy scent of the dying leaves wafts by as the kids and I play hide and seek, and the game and the air and the leaves awakene a deliciously wonderful memory.

I have talked about growing up in Gilbertville, the town with more bars than stores. I've at times referenced certain parts of growing up that were difficult and painful (as with most people). But that's not the whole story.

Some parts of my childhood were absolutely perfect.

I grew up in the eighties, when packs of kids still roamed around small-town neighborhoods, when kids didn't do "play dates" but just went out in the backyard or to the friend across the street's backyard and played for hours. We built forts. We rode bikes without helmets down dirt paths. We found an old creepy rusted car in the woods. We played house under the cluster of crab apple trees and created elaborate lands for our Matchbox cars and Star Wars figurines that wound through our driveways...over stone walls...around flower gardens.

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 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.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

This is awesome, Deb. I love your blog. I remember doing Bubble Gum,Bubble Gum to decide all of life's biggest challenges. If only it was that easy now. I love that you PLAY with the kids as well as give them free time alone so you can take care of is all about balance. :)