Things you can use as a ball when you are nine and it’s summer and your family is boring:
1. Your mom’s car keys
2. Your little brother’s new Buzz Lightyear with Power Blaster and Shield
3. Your older brother’s Hobbesonian*
4. A dirty sock+
5. A roll of yellow duct tape**
6. A ceramic flower pot
7. A broken ceramic flower pot
8. A white rubber egg that pretends to splat when it hits a smooth surface to show off its inner yellow yolk.++
9. Rocks. Smallish ones work best.
10. Your granola bar
11. Your brother’s granola bar
13. A little plastic turtle named Squirtle+++
14. Teeny little oranges that have a very specific name^
* T came late to stuffed animal love, but after falling hard for a stuffed tiger (Hobbes) in the 3rd grade, he has protected his growing collection with a vengeance.
+It’s summer. Laundry is sporadic. All our socks are dirty.
**L is fascinated with duct tape and has a growing collection of weirdly vibrant colors.
++These eggs have a shelf life of about 7 splats. Then they burst, which is, apparently, the best part.
***Which your mother keeps trying to get you to read.
+++Squirtle is one of those rare toys that has survived our chaotic household, even though he is small and silent. I don’t remember where he came from. He appeared a few years ago in L’s hands and, though occasionally he’ll go missing for months at a time, has made his home here. He doesn’t even seem to mind being tossed through the humid air and just as likely left to fall to the ground, over and over.
^Which I just can’t now recall.
I worry, sometimes, that we don’t provide our kids with enough of the tools – balls, hoops, goals, cones, ring toss games – their friends have. I worry we’re stunting L’s development, which is obviously slanted towards sports. But mostly I like to watch to see what he chooses as his next potential projectile. It amuses him, and more importantly, it amuses me.