There was a moment today–one of those stop-you-in-your-tracks illuminations–that made me so grateful for the gifts in my life. Not only do I have clean water, access to food and electricity, a smog-free blue sky above me, and the love of family, I have the extra blessing of neighbors who exemplify community in the best sense of the word. Kam & Janet–you bless me every day.
The play explosion started around 9:30 this morning with our boys building jumps for their bikes and “getting some huge air” when they launched from the wood planks, nearly crashing into a nearby fire hydrant. They migrated from bikes to electric dirt-bike to roller blades to scooters to squirt guns. Barely wanting to stop for lunch, the three of them [our two boys and Kam’s son] moved in and out of activities and in and out of larger groups of kids, gobbling up summer and not wanting to leave even a crumb to waste.
My daughter and three other girls, on the other hand, camped out on our deck with an amalgamation of horses, dolls, socks [sleeping bags for mini-dolls], blankets, and other things to feed their imaginations. It was so sweet to watch them moving the tiny plastic bodies, blowing life into them with their ad-libbed dialogue. At one point the oldest girl sat as puppet master to her doll, discussing Asian fashion trends in a British accent.
Because that’s what you do. When you’re 9.
As play progressed, I sensed the possibility of an impending fight due to a sudden doll shortage. Springing into action, I suggested they get their Polly Pockets out to supplement their cache. One of the girls replied,
“They won’t work because they can’t spread their legs to get on the horse.”
“Yeah. They can’t spread their legs unless their pants are off.”
That’s what she said.
We moms about lost it!
Later in the day Janet had to go to work, so she arranged for her girls to go to Kam’s for a couple of hours. However, with such spectacular fun underway on our deck, the girls stayed camped out at our house, drifting off into faraway places and adopting new names and voices for their play. And that’s when it hit me–that illuminated gratitude I talked about earlier. I reflected on this–on the beauty of this kind of trust and availability. That Janet could leave for work and *know* that her girls would be safe; that they would be cared for and protected and loved while she was away. That the girls had the freedom to roam between my home and Kam’s, following the whims of their creativity–and that that was ok.
As I unearthed myself from the pile of laundry on our dining room table, I went to check on them and saw that they had built a tent with the blankets that were drying outside. They had beds inside, a canister of pretzels–all the basics for an afternoon of camping. The tricky thing, however, about using a velour blanket is that it’s slippery, and soon enough the fort engineers determined that something was needed to hold down the sides of the blanket. Off they went into our garage that’s overflowing with junk recyclables to find the final keystone for their home.
Now, I toast their ingenuity and resourcefulness, yes.
I take my hat off to their planning and teamwork.
However, in the spirit of nurturing neighbors and protecting kids and all the warm-fuzzies I just shared, I had to chuckle to see the last addition to their structure:
Cheers to creative minds everywhere. Cheers to play.