Every day feels like laundry day around here; it always seems I’m toting it, sorting it, folding it, putting it away, or yelling at someone else to put it away. But today is for REAL laundry day. So far, I have run seven loads, and the finish line is in sight. I still have to fold all of it, of course, but it’s at least almost all clean.
I have fallen behind (as I often tend to do) because we have been on a roller coaster of illnesses, doctor’s appointments, x-rays, and general craziness for about two weeks, and now, I’m getting ready to go on my much anticipated writing retreat, and I need to make sure that everyone has clean underwear before I go.
As I’m writing, it occurs to me that this blog entry is probably going to look about like that pile of laundry– colorful but messy. When I drop off the blog radar for a while, I realize all the fun things we’ve done and all I’ve missed recording, and trying to capture all of it seems impossible or at least boring.
Besides sitting in various waiting rooms this week, we did manage to see the circus, learn to knit, and build a mack-daddy fort in the woods. The fort, actually, has been our saving grace during an otherwise pretty crappy couple of weeks.
Five weeks ago, Harper Lee broke her ankle and has been in a cast or clunky boot ever since. For any kid, this kind of thing is hugely inconvenient, but for Harper Lee, it has been total misery. Not being able to run or jump or practice kung-fu kicks on her brother has been a source of some fairly significant depression and general foul-temperedness.
The weather, however, has been super, so we have tried to take advantage of our very un-February like days and get outside for fresh air and creative play. The kids have an awesome treehouse in the woods that they love, but for some reason, they have been particularly drawn to a fallen tree on the other side of the woods for quite some time.
The other day, they began working on hollowing out the tree and building a hide-out. This was fun, dirty work that allowed Harper Lee to be outside without putting unnecessary pressure on her ankle. I even went down and helped scoop out the soft wood and a few grubs along the way. I have to say that besides a good, long trail run or a pack of crayons and a new coloring book, digging out the innards of a rotting tree is one of my top choices for therapy and well-being. I’m not kidding.
And apparently, it works for lots of people. My friend, Jason, came by on Saturday to drop off a new technical shirt he’d gotten me and a heart rate monitor before heading on up to Stone Mountain for a long run. We chatted for a while, and then the kids announced that they were going down to work on the fort and asked Jason to come down to see it. He did.
I stayed behind to throw in laundry (no way!) and to make a phone call. A little while later, I glanced out the window and saw that Jason’s truck was still in the driveway. I went to the kitchen window and saw Jason down on his hand and knees digging furiously at the base of the tree.
Later, when I went down to announce lunch, I found all three of them working diligently at stuffing moss and leaves into the holes that remained in their teepee fort. All three came back to the house for sandwiches, chips and hot chocolate.
Jason laughed at himself and said that he hoped I didn’t think it strange that he came over to play in the woods but that he missed that element of play in his life. He also commented that he thought that’s one of the things he loved most about trail running; it has a sense of play and adventure that even adults can enjoy. It made me wonder why grown-ups don’t take the time to play as much.
Apparently, Jason was also pondering this question when he left our house that afternoon because he posted this essay on his blog, which I thought was a pretty interesting take on the therapeutic benefits of play.
Maybe Jason and I are just weirdos– in fact, I think that’s a safe assumption– but, I swear, if we all took the time to just mess around, to dig in the dirt, to play and see where it leads, like our kids do, we would probably all be a lot happier.
That’s one of the reasons I try so hard to be engaged with the kids and to play on their level. Sometimes it’s really hard. I have things to do, deadlines to meet, and laundry to fold. And sometimes, I just get set in my grown-up ways, and I just don’t want to be bothered. We need to be bothered more.
Things like Saturday afternoon remind me that laundry will always be here, but opportunities to dig up grubs and watch them wiggle in your hand with people who are in love with life and looking at everything with new eyes (the way we should all live) are fleeting. Be bothered to play, to look up at the winter sky and to stop and look at what’s beneath your feet. This is your life.
Think about what you really loved doing as a kid. Do it now.