It was a gorgeous spring afternoon. The sun, without a cloud to challenge it, warmed the Northeast. Elderly couples, hand-in-hand, walked up and down the sidewalks adjacent to the local retirement community. Dogs barked, and the faint scent of fertilizer wafted through the streets as I worked my way through a two-mile run.
I try to run each day, giving my body an endorphin-rich high between shifts at work and my mind a chance to wander. I felt great this afternoon, soaking in the sun and enjoying a chance to run without oppressive wind or the need to wear anything longer than short sleeves and basketball shorts.
As I crossed the small playground a block from my house, the final stretch of my daily run, I heard pattering footsteps. Turning, I saw a child, a little boy, no more than 5 or 6 years old. He wore a black sweatshirt, green pants and black shoes under short, thin, black hair.
"Excuse me," he said in that high-pitched innocence. Perhaps he had dropped something and needed help finding it. Or maybe he was fundraising for some kind of club or school program. He sounded a little nervous, trying to impress me with his level of diplomacy.
He stumbled through his restrained excitement, delivering a question he seemed proud of asking.
"W-w-w-w would you like to play .. Would you like to play hide-and-seek with us?"
In my peripheral, I looked over toward the direction he ventured from. A silver van indicated he was probably with some friends, if not just a parent or guardian. I'm not sure if his invitation was authorized, and I don't know what the unwritten rules are of playing games with random children in a park. I looked down, glancing over my 'Cereal Killers' shirt (our Spring Weekend softball uniforms) and mumbled something about having to get home. Hopefully, I smiled.
"OK, what time will you be back?"
You have to admire the persistence of a child. He didn't skip a beat. I told him I wasn't sure.
"Well, we might be gone by the time you get back."
And with that friendly warning, I finished my run and headed home.
I'm a little disappointed I didn't take the little guy up on his offer, whether that was a good call or not. But the invitation meant a lot to me. We adults wake up each day anticipating, looking forward to or dreading the next task at hand. After we finish that task, there's another one right behind it. It's a series of jobs and assignments and obligations.
I'm dealing with that and slowly accepting it. I run because that's what I do between the morning shift and the night shift. I'm on a schedule, and I work, work, work before I sleep a little and get back to work.
But-- literally -- stopped in my tracks by a little boy who just wanted to play a game of hide-and-seek gave me a reason to take a deep breath of spring air and appreciate the things in life that somehow get lost in the daily grind.
Also, this kid didn't 'friend' me on Facebook or punch out something on a cell phone to communicate with me. He ran up to me, a complete stranger, and asked. I may consider myself an introvert, but I think that's pretty cool (maybe a little dangerous, but I'm pretty sure I don't come off as any kind of threat to children).
I think we can all learn a lot from kids and their worldview. While the world fights over birth control rights and a struggling economy, while teenagers and young adults plug in to live through Tweets, texts and Facebook likes, kids are out there, in the glory of an early-spring afternoon, and focusing on nothing other than their prospective games of hide-and-seek.
Yes, there's an irony to me posting about this experience on a blog. But I think sharing is worth the risk of sounding like a hypocrite.
- Current Mood:busy
- Current Music:"I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" ~ U2