Visiting with friends this afternoon, outside at sunset. Three kids, Vada 2, Landon 5, and Cheyanne 6, were playing the game Freeze. Cheyanne and Landon ran across the grass of a half acre yard until Vada hollered, "Freeze." The two running stopped and waited for Vada to say, "Green light," and they'd run again until Vada hollered, "Freeze." This game evolved into kicking a soccer ball trying to kick it past daddy, Justin, to score a point. Then daddy would try to kick the ball past Cheyanne and Landon. The kids were animated in continuous motion, missing the ball, turning and running after it, returning it with a barefooted toe kick to daddy. Daddy told Cheyenne it wouldn't hurt her toes if she kicked the ball with the inside of her foot. Cheyanne said she liked kicking it with her toes. She knew how to kick it. The sky had plenty of light in the gloaming and we noticed a bat flying around, then the lightning bugs came out. The kids ran around trying to catch them. Cheyanne was a good one at catching lightning bugs. She just reached up and plucked one out of the air with both hands, taking care not to hurt it like it was a bird. At one point, Cheyanne talking said, "Y'all," speaking to all of us, and I got a flash that I was reading a Southern novel. Looking at the kids, I saw Southern kids growing up Southern. It's in their blood. It's in their habit patterns.
It was actually a sublime moment for me with these people who are so close to my heart they're the same as my own. Crystal carried Vada to me and told Vada to "Do bless-your-heart to TJ." Vada put her hand on top of my head and moved her hand down my cheek to my chin saying, "Bless your heart." The fun in it was she says it with such soul it's comic in a two year old. We laughed, Vada giggled and tucked her head under Crystal's chin laughing. These are the people I love with all my heart, playing, laughing, daddy teaching the kids skills with ball playing. Justin is inclined to teach his kids ball game skills on his own. I heard a few months ago on NPR a child psychologist talking about how important play with a ball is in a child's brain development. When I told Justin what I'd heard, it affirmed for him that it was as important as he intuited. Cheyanne is evidently going to be playing soccer soon with a children's group.
One day last week, Cheyanne was running over a gravel driveway, tripped and fell flat down on the gravel. Her left elbow was skinned a little bit, not bleeding. She got up sobbing lightly, went to daddy, and daddy told her she's going to have to get used to falling down if she's going to play soccer. It's time to start learning to suck it up when you fall down. You get up and keep on going. She drifted over to me and leaned into my left side. I put my hand on her shoulder, gave her a gesture of a hug and said, "I know it hurts." I felt like that was all she really needed was for somebody to acknowledge with her that it hurts. I thought of putting kerosene on it, because kerosene draws the pain out. Can't explain it, but it works. No kerosene. I thought of water, but we'd have to go all the way to the house for water. Suddenly, it didn't hurt so bad. She saw the other kids playing with a Frisbee and she ran off to throw Frisbee.
Landon can run in flip-flops as fast as he can run in shoes. Justin said he wears flip-flops all the time. That's what he likes. I've seen Southeastern Asians in documentaries wearing their version of the same and running. I watch in awe seeing Asians run in flip-flops. I can't even walk in them. This evening I was watching Landon run full tilt over the grass, them little legs just a-flyin, flip-flips hugging his feet like they were taped on with duct tape. It heartens me to see the good times Justin has with his kids and his wife, Crystal. I feel good in the heart chakra seeing them all together playing as hard as they could go. One time Vada fell flat on her face running full speed on the grass. It stunned her. She started to cry, stopped herself, jumped up laughing and took off running full speed. Being able to run wide-open like Cheyanne and Landon is new to two-year old baby. She laughed all the time she ran and she ran for the sake of running, ran everywhere she went. It was like watching Wendy in Peter Pan learning to fly.