Gray Matters: Act your shoe size
Oftentimes, I hear myself telling my son I'm too busy to come outside and play with him, a scenario I can imagine occurs in almost every household on a fairly regular basis.
While sometimes it's not possible for me to put off whatever it is I'm doing, most times I find myself rethinking my to-do list and putting off a few of the less-pressing tasks.
That's because I have fond memories of my own parents taking the time to revert to a childhood state, even if it was just for a little while.
I remember how much fun it was to see our folks engaging in all the activities we loved so much: My dad and my brother playing marathon games of Pac Man, going ice skating at the pond near the house where I grew up, making a snowman in May with my mom one year after a late season snowfall.
I want my son to have similar memories of me some day, when he is grown and raising his own family.
But I also find taking the time to act one's shoe size rather than one's age has another, more immediate benefit, and that is getting a chance to recapture the feeling of being a child again, even if only for a moment.
A few weeks ago, I was at my nephew's first birthday party, during which time my three other nephews were taking turns riding a Radio Flyer wagon down a steep hill. Though the mom in me instantly thought of all the worst-case scenarios that could come as a result of such an activity — stitches, sprained ankles, head wounds, to name a few — I also couldn't help but think about how much fun it would be to take the ride myself.
"Hey, let me try that!" I said to my eight-year-old nephew, half kidding.
Then my 12-year-old nephew instantly started in with detailed instructions on how to wagon surf without taking a huge digger and busting my noggin.
As I walked closer to the crest of the hill, the wagon, and what I thought could have been the beginning of my demise, all the kids were cheering me on. Soon, the aunts, uncles, grammies and grandpas came out on the deck to see the big show, and at that point I realized it was too late to back out.
So I positioned myself in the wagon, with my too-long legs dangling over each side, and gripped the handle attached to the front wheels so I would have a prayer of steering.
As the wagon started its descent down the hill, the apprehension I felt at first was soon replaced by another sensation — pure joy. It's the kind of joy that comes with your first roller coaster ride, or your hitting a homerun.
I had so much fun I went back for another ride. Then a few more of the grown ups tried it out, too.
Taking that time to play with the children in your life has a way of keeping you young, and reminding you of what's really important.
So next time the boy asked me to come outside and play ball with him, I've already decided the dishes can wait.