Almost at the end of August and it’s a beautiful day. A bit of a cool breeze while the sun shines above. Summer is almost over. Kids are getting ready to go back to school. Kids. I am sure that summer is never long enough for them. We adults like to say that we remember what it was like being a kid, but the actual playtime, gaytime, fun feeling, is a distant memory. The stories are there, but the actual excitement we felt playing the games are not as apparent. So, when I saw an empty playground with one child, one basketball, and a very high basketball net, I couldn’t help doddle at the stop sign to see what would happen.
Playgrounds have come a long way from the equipment we used to play on. Everything nowadays seems to be tamed to the point that I’m surprised safety harnesses aren’t in use for each jungle gym. The components from slide to monkey bars have your basic menage a trois…red, yellow, blue, happy colour scheme. Our slides used to be made of nice steel. So shiny and slippery, until the sweltering heat of summer. Then, you either lay down to burn your back and slide down quickly, or your calves and thighs left skin behind as you melted your way down the burning hot slide. WHAT FUN! And it sure was!
Swings. To be able to fly like a bird was incredible! Learning how to use your legs in that back and forth motion to propel yourself was a talent. Then you would get daring and lean your head back and hope that you wouldn’t behead yourself. Or how about the “jump off the swing in midair” trick? Yeah there were a few miscalculations and you would land flat on your back. Some broke ankles. Meh. It was all in a day’s play.
Now the tire swing. There was a dizzying experience. Truly. Four youths, hanging onto rusted chains, sitting on a rubber truck tire. Now, does the pusher of the tire swing it straight? Heck no! You grab that tire and you start running in a circle. Then as you are about to spin out from dizziness, you grab that chain and spin your best friends around and hope someone barfs. Oh yeah! Goal accomplished! If no one vomited, then you had the pleasure of watching them get off the swing and fall down cause they couldn’t walk straight. Glory days!
Of the painful child apparatuses, I would declare that the see-saw was the most butt fatal. True? Yes. I believe the term “see-saw” came from a child exclaiming the following:
Mom: Jr., where is your brother?
Jr: First I see him on the wooden lever.
Jr: Yeah, then I saw he were gone.
Yup, something like that. You see them go up then you saw them fall on their behinds as the best and unfairest part was that someone would always rather jump off and watch you flop down on your derriere. It wasn’t about going up and down. It was about who would torture who first.
The good ol’ days. So much fun. It was all about having laughs…ahem…the last laugh.
But, I digress. Truly, more than usual this time.
Back to my pretty girl in the park. Crouching ball player, wishing tiger. Wishing that she would jump up high enough with the ball and slam dunk it in the net. Crouch low, ball set in palm of left hand and clutching with right hand, spring up, MISS! I noticed that she was by herself. Perhaps if a parent had been around there might have been tears of woe. Since there were no witnesses, she seemed content to pick up her ball and try again. Crouch, hold ball, lay up, jump. Miss again.
Sadly, I had to leave my stop sign and continue driving before a cacophony of horns could sound off. I smiled. I was proud of that little girl. I was happy for her. It also made me think. Was she playing or practicing? Was someone hoping she would be the next great basketball player? Was she going to try out for the basketball team at school? Was she trying to outplay a sibling or friend? Was she just having fun and trying to see if she could get the ball in the basket? So many questions and no answers.
Driving away I smiled. First, I loved seeing a child playing outside. With video games and tv shows and DVDs many children don’t see the outdoors. Second, I loved her tenacity. I loved her precarious approach to getting the correct stance in order get the perfect shot. Then, watching in slo mo as the ball went up…straight up…no curve to actually get it up and over. Ball in air. Ball drops. No biggie. She crouched right back down and picked it up again.
Still smiling, I thought about how, yet again, a child had taught me an important life lesson. The basket was the goal. You crouch, get ready, get set…miss. It happens often in life. High school. Bad marks in a class. Fail.. You could go for your driver’s license. Fail. You could get married and have it not work out. Fail. You could apply for a job and not get it. Fail. You could sit at home and do nothing, ensuring that you never fail at anything. That too is a fail.
Life is about trying things. Life is about exploring. Life is about failing. Through so-called failure, you win. Failure is about learning. At first it might not work out, but that failure taught you something very important. It was a guideline. It was a message to you. Many great inventions were created by oopses. I admire that kind of failure.
Nowadays, I don’t worry about failure. My life is about what I haven’t failed at. There were many wishes and dreams I gave up on because I was worried someone would laugh at me or criticize me. Now, not trying new things is my new definition of failure.
So, if you see pictures of my fantastic artwork (sale of canvas and paint at art shop). If you see pictures of lopsided casseroles or flat birthday cakes, enjoy them with me.
She shoots, she…could’ve scored…but she had a fun time missing it.