We had such a great day with Uncle Chub today. First, we went to the Inner Space Caverns near Round Rock. Wow, how beautiful and strange. The Bigs loved it; the Littles tolerated it. Then we had a bite of lunch at Chipotle before heading to the playscape display over at Chub’s office. When we pulled in the parking lot, I heard every decibel of gasping: “Wow!” “Are we allowed to play on these?” “Are these all his?” A tangible heaven to 4 road-weary kids.
And so the play began. Like a child’s version of Supermarket Sweep, they ran helter skelter around the grounds, frantically scaling the small climbing walls, giving every steering wheel they passed a wild spin, then off they ran to the next wooden playhouse or vacant swing. Honestly, they didn’t stay on one playset for more than 30 seconds; they were simply determined to enjoy a little bit of each thing rather than gorge themselves on one slide or swing, missing out on all the others around them. What a strange and hilarious spectacle to watch.
About 10 minutes into the cacophony of play, Shawn decided to reel things in a bit by starting a game of Hide and Seek. I meandered around, helping the Littles find less obvious hiding places (sitting on a swing kind of took away the mystery of Hide and Seek), and cheering for the Bigs as they attempted to outrun their galloping, screeching father.
Then, two rounds in Shawn’s “Smucker-ness” came out.
Now if you know anything about the Smuckers, you know they love competition and they love games. Even now, as Shawn’s aunts and uncles are in their fifties and sixties, they don’t bat an eye at a hot and heavy game of volleyball, complete with diving to the floor for the ball or smashing it over the net. They’re a feisty bunch.
That said, Shawn couldn’t bear that Uncle Chub and I were just refereeing this game of Hide and Seek; he wanted us in on it. Of course, Chub was just waiting for the invitation. Like a spry 10-year old, he jogged off to hide in small shed nestled on the outskirts of the playsets. The Bigs and Littles nervously giggled as they fluttered from potential hiding spots, never sure where to settle. Shawn counted on, yet, there I stood, the battle inside me raging.
Sometimes I think I wear this “mother” role a little too tightly. Occasionally, deep inside, I feel the desire to act childish once again: jump eagerly into a game of hide and seek, tear out a Strawberry Shortcake coloring page and bring it to life with a fistful of crayons, or twirl around in the cool rain with no regard for the mud on my shoes or my sopping t-shirt.
But when those desires whisper in my mind, “Mother-talk” kicks in: “Now, Maile, you really shouldn’t do that. You’re a mom now. If you aren’t behaving responsibly, who will? There always needs to be someone in charge, an adult on the scene. That’s your job now.” So I suppress the desire and just be “Mama”.
Except today. By the time Shawn’s counting reached to fifty, I was snuggled into one of the round cylinders on the train playset, breathless with anticipation, the sweet nervousness of childhood pounding in my chest. And when Shawn trickled away from base looking for prey, I darted for safety, laughing like my 7-year old, light on my feet, and wonderfully weightless in my heart.