Friday, February 6, 2009

When All Else Fails, Play!

For two days, my eleven-year-old lay on the couch, sick with a fever and a cough. On the third, her fever subsided and she was ready to be more active. “Can we play a game today when the baby is sleeping?” she asked.

So we spent an hour playing mancala, pass-out, and Parcheesi. We laughed at the faces we made when we sniffed our noses and tried not to sneeze. As we enjoyed each other’s company, I wondered to myself why I don’t do this more often. When she was my only baby, we spent the entire day entertaining each other. When more came along and they were old enough to play with each other, I tended more to use their playtime as my time to get stuff done. Often, I thought that I had forgotten how to play.

But when I choose to sit down to a game with them, or pitch them balls in the backyard, I realize with relief how easy it is to fall back into childhood mode. Playing a game, all else disappears. I forget about all the stuff I have to get done, my future plans, and worries. I am truly living in the moment.

This morning, my daughter was well enough to return to school, but I had succumbed to the cold. I reached for the last diaper and groaned; I did not want to go to the store. Thankful that I had a reserve of four diapers in the diaper bag, I let my toddler play in her room while I got dressed.

I opened up my hope chest and reached for my oversized, handmade wool sweater, which I had purchased in Poland many years ago. It is well-preserved because I use it only on days when I need that extra comfort.

Then I heard a whirring sound coming from my daughter’s room. I went to her door and saw her playing her feed-the-frog game. She looked at my bare feet. “Stinkies?” she asked me.

“Yes, I need to get my socks on.”

I retrieved some socks and went to join her on the floor.

My husband came home for his lunch and found us there, trying to get plastic flies into the frog’s mouth.

“Is there a lunch?” he asked.

I answered with a sneeze.

He made himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and I returned to our game.

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