Playfulness– something we tend to lose if we take life and all the entanglements too seriously.
My dad modeled playfulness to me at a very early age. He was a home builder, known for if you couldn’t get a hold of him (on the weekend, waiting for inspections, or just because it seemed like a better idea,) he was probably on his boat fishing somewhere. The Christmas season was a brilliantly lit display of child-likeness around the house, and he was always the first one eager to go open presents.
He was a jokester.
When my five year old voice told him I found a rattlesnake at the end of the driveway, he quickly cut off the head, curled the whole snake up in the garbage can, propped the mouth open with a little stick and then told my thirteen year old brother to take the trash out. My brother has blocked that memory out of his head, but I still laugh at my memory of him screaming, dropping the trash, and running away.
After I moved back to take to care of them both, the phone rang very early one morning. As a caregiver, the phone ringing at 6:30am causes the heart to jump, a knot to seize up the throat, and the pulse to pound through every vein.
When the caller ID is your parents’ phone number, the already engaged internal emergency alert system is heightened.
This morning, the voice was my Dad’s.
He never calls at 6:30 in the morning, my foggy brain confusedly said to my heart, causing the heart to jump higher, the knot to seize tighter, and the pulse to batter through my skin.
I listened intently as I expected it to be a crisis or tragedy. Expecting to quickly say the words “have you called 9-1-1,” the tension was rising in my very small, one roomed home.
What I heard was an old man with a high pitched boy-like voice, squealing excitedly at full volume to my not yet fully awakened ears.
“Have you opened your blinds yet? Open your blinds and look out the window! Hurry up. It’s Texas you might miss it.”
“Oh Daddy. It’s snowing,” I replied in a softened awe.
There was a long pause, as I am sure we were both gazing at the falling clumps of white flakes dancing in the air and coming to rest on the speckled white lawn.
I hold that memory dear to my heart as one of the many wonderful examples of my daddy’s playfulness and childlike wonder.
This morning, as I heard there was a slight chance of snowflakes somewhere in the metroplex, I bounded out of bed, threw open the blinds to see ….. rain.
Thirty degrees and rain. Seriously?
Working all morning has been very distracting while gazing out the windows, willing the rain to turn into snow. The only thing it has been is disappointing. I sure miss my Dad.
During the holidays, I spent the day with one nephew and his nephew at Legoland. Where were these places when I was young?
Oh.my.gosh – it was so much fun. To be my great nephew’s age all over again, or to at least have all that energy again, would be awesome. But having said that, there was something energizing about his playfulness.
His enthusiasm was catching as we built race cars out of Lego parts, then hurtled them down the racetrack. He was just as excited to see mine be catapulted from great heights as his own.
We had so much fun. When I went to bed, the smile on my face probably made my dreams of amusement parks more vivid that night.
My work is intense and serious, with opportunities to be playful fleeting and few. But those times are food for my soul, energy to the very heart of my being.
Sometimes I forget how starved I am for play.
What if my mostly-serious dad had not modeled his playfulness to me but instead had chosen to be serious all the time, not willing to get on the floor and put together Lincoln Logs with the grandkids? Would I be afraid or too stodgy to play?
I want to model my playfulness to my great nephew and look forward to our next adventure. In the meantime, there is a baby blue Volkswagen Beetle lego set I want to get and build during work recesses.
We had recesses in school for a reason – It was to balance our hard work with playfulness!