Every Tuesday, Ruth and Stacey, host Slice of Life at their blog, Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
Here's my slice.
Our cat loves tennis balls. He holds it against his belly with his front paws and proceeds to give it a solid thumping with his back paws. He's even managed to carry a tennis ball in his mouth by catching it on his sharp teeth! My very dog-like cat will also chase them around the house and attack them, which is why there was an errant tennis ball on the kitchen floor, which my son then started to juggle and eventually send past me to ring off the dishwasher. I collected the ball from the vicinity now near my feet and tried to dribble it past him. No words were said. The game was on. A game that had not been played in two years.
I have played sports with both my children, but my son and I have had a soccer match going from the time he could kick a ball. Our basement was the scene of many a soccer show down. Goals were established, rules were set, soccer balls were handled, laughter always ensued. It was competitive though. We kept score. We tried all our tricks and feints. We wanted to win. We also laughed at the missed shots. We heckled each other. We shanked the ball. We even added sound effects -- usually me emanating the breathy "ahhhh" of a large crowd as I raised my hands in a victory swoop after scoring a goal!
When we redid the basement about six years ago, the game moved up to the kitchen (which is shaped in a U with hardwood floors). The refrigerator served as one goal and the dishwasher (which I was usually found defending) the other. Two years had passed since we'd last played soccer in the kitchen, yet it felt as if time had never stopped. About 10 minutes into our game, my son disappeared and returned with the small soccer ball we had gotten in Spain. It was purchased just for this venue.
The game was on again.
Did I mention that my son was home from college? We hadn't played soccer inside the house since his sophomore year of high school. Why? I am not really sure. I am not sure how we let life get so serious and so busy during his last two high school years, but I am glad we found our way back to this place. We both clearly needed this.
After I dropped my son back off at his dorm, I drove home thinking about a reflective piece I had written back in 2004.
The “gradual increase” theory as it relates to ball play
Recently, in the midst of our weekday morning routine, I realized there was an additional element adding to the chaos and cacophony. It was a subtle, but persistent, somewhat rhythmic noise like “thumpa thumpa thumpa” accompanied by the often erratic arc of a flying orb. It is the sound of balls bouncing on and off surfaces in my house. A ball or often two balls now attend many events and routines in my family’s life. It happened so slowly I did not fully comprehend or accept their permanent companionship until this week. Oh, we’ve always had balls for play, but they have remained outside the house. We have soccer balls, basketballs, lacrosse balls, tennis balls, street hockey balls, footballs, kick balls, super balls, baseballs, waffle balls, soft balls, hacky-sacks, pinkie balls, you name it and we most likely have it. Both our children love sports and being out-of-doors. The new turn of events is that the balls have all come indoors. When the children were infants we had a quilted ball and a soft ball for rolling back and forth, but as they grew older the ball play moved outside. About a year ago, we got a small futsal ball (a heavier but softer soccer ball) for playing 1v1 in the basement playroom. Shortly after that, a few tennis balls came in for off-the-wall. This was followed by the purchase of an indoor hockey set. All of this was manageable because the ball play stayed in the basement. This morning’s sounds emanated from the game of off-the-wall being played against a door in the kitchen and a kick ball being bounced in the family room. After the children had headed off to school and the house was quiet, I walked around the house picking up balls. As I picked up one type of ball after another, I realized the invasion was complete. To name a few, there was a super ball in my bedroom, a futsal ball in the hallway, a tennis ball in the kitchen, and the kickball in the family room. I hadn’t acknowledged how significant their presence was. I experienced a brief moment of longing for the time when small cars were the main stay and could be found everywhere in our house, but then I realized that the ball thing is another phase in the growth of my children and this too shall pass, besides I like playing soccer and catch and off-the-wall. And it won’t be forever, until then though, I think I’ll try and limit their run of the house and keep a couple of aspirin handy.
My take now? I hope the balls and cars never leave my house. I wouldn't trade a clean house for these moments spent with my children.