The first time I can remember playing was in a playpen with the little girl next door.
Her name was Barby. Her mom had named her in the debutante age of the iconic doll, but in a show of defiance, had changed the spelling to make a point- a ‘point’ I think that could have been better made with the name Latoya, or Siobhan.
After that, it is a blur of playtimes; bicycle tag, Around The House, Bull Rush, Monopoly, egging houses, crank phone calls, sneaking out to meet-up with a cute boy. The games never ended.
But then they did- I grew up, and those kinds of games turned into How Many Free Drinks Can I Get At The Bar Tonight and I’d Like To See San Francisco So Who’s Going to Take Me. (Oh, the age of innocence and total self involvement. It was a shallow time. I miss you so).
The work. The bills. The clothes. The keeping-up with dating two man at once- became a game in and of itself. And I couldn’t make the long haul Thank God .
Luckily (and I mean ‘Luck’ because it was the greatest stroke of it I have ever had) I finally met my perfect flip-side and dived into his calm pool like a fish out of water.
I was HOME.
And we played- house, and world travelers, and corporate moguls, and dinner party, and sparkling conversation, and building a life, which eventually led to… playing parents.
Our son was a very curious and hyper-focused little cus. ( Think ADHD- only the opposite).
When he was involved in
anything something he would not give-it-up. Not to bathe. Not to eat. Not to sleep. Not to breathe.
Oh boy. What the Hell was going on here?
I had options: be in a constant struggle with him (no), or try to divert him (didn’t work), or insert other activities (again- a fail), take him to a shrink (nah) or… get into his head.
I chose to enter his world.
Thankfully he let me in.
His world was glorious, very organized but without any walls. There were many moving parts but a gentle kind of hum that accompanied them. ‘Not working’ was ‘not’ in his vocabulary but every other word was- he
is was a talker, and he needed to be heard. Anything was possible and everything should be tried. Failure was his motivation. Easy success only meant you hadn’t stretched the boundaries far enough (as was evidenced when he took his father’s tools and hooked our house up to cable, at the big box down the street, before we had official service. THAT brought a black Buick and two men in dark suits to our house. “Chase! What have you done now, you little devil I love you so?”).
I ‘got it’- and so did his grandfather, Pa, who gave Chase a HUGE Lego set when he was only four, and sat on the floor with us for h-o-u-r-s, as Chase built a seaport on the moon, cars that did your homework, furniture that flew, and together we discovered the universe, and the gift of knowing how to…
… Of which, I was reminded of, a few weeks ago when I visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens and realized my boy wasn’t alone.