Tate came home from work early, which is a rarity. We took advantage of the extra hours of family time since most evenings are saturated with dinner, bath time, and bedtime stories, leaving little time for conversation and play. We all went outside on the patio and the boys began their favorite game, red ball chase. After an extremely long summer, I thought I detected the slightest change in the air, signaling a hint of fall. This shift in the air felt almost magical.
I watched as Tate and Carson ran in circles, bouncing the red ball, and very immersed in this game that appeared to be so simple. They invited me to join in their game and I learned that this game had rules and technique. Sometimes you chased Carson, other times you chased Daddy. There was lots of ball bouncing, especially off of me, but I relished being included in red ball chase. I never did really understand my role in their game, but Carson, even at 23 months, knew the rules and when I broke them.
As young children are known for doing, Carson became bored and began to play with something else. Tate and I watched him as he practiced going up the stairs on the patio, ever so carefully, saying “sep! (step), sep!, sep!,” as each foot touched the step below. We revelled in his ability to feel such joy in this simple activity.
The black gum tree next to our house began to fill with birds of all kinds, woodpeckers, robins, and a cardinal. Tate explained that we needed to stand very still or we would spook the birds, causing them to fly away. Carson was mesmerized by the chattering between the birds and watched, entranced, not moving a muscle for longer than I’d expect of a child his age. Eventually the birds flew away and you could see the disappointment in this little boy’s face as he called, “more bir, mor bir!”
I realized, spending this unexpected afternoon with my family, that even if it was temporary, time didn’t feel like it was in the way. For this afternoon, I didn’t feel the constraints of responsibilities and was able to just enjoy. This once, reality didn’t feel burdensome.
I never knew something so seemingly insignificant as red ball chase, steps, and birds could bring such peace. I hope I can open my eyes, grab those moments and simply be, more often.