4,738 times. That's how many times I bounced a golf ball on the concrete patio on the back of my parents house in the summer of 1973. I would bounce that white sphere of hard plastic on the concrete, watching it bounce on the side of the house and landing back in my hand like the boomerang of the south, trying to make sure it didn't fly past me, causing a hard run down the grassy hill to catch it before it landed in the creek. If I were feeling really brave, I'd walk to the edge of the patio, letting my bare feet hang off the edge just enough for balance and I'd try to bounce it high enough and hard enough so it'd land on the roof, stopping just before the peak of the roofline, and rolling slowly back down, bouncing once again on concrete. Occasionally, a bounce would go a little whacky and I'd close my eyes hard as I heard it hit the sliding glass door, praying that there was no shattering glass sound and my mama didn't hear the distinctive "tap" from the inside. If I was lucky, she wouldn't be in the kitchen, close enough to the doors to hear the click......click......click of plastic hitting concrete but far enough away to miss the close calls of almost breaking doors and wasting dollars we didn't have. I had an AM radio my daddy bought me for Christmas, and with the antenna pointed at just the right angle, I could get the station in "town", which was about 15 miles away. I would play the music as loud as it would go, dancing and singing and acting like a 10 year old does, unsupervised and uncaring about the world around me, golf ball in my hand, bouncing..... And on the hottest of days, mama would want to tan her skin, already supple like soft leather, from years of baby oil mixed with iodine and hours in the sun. I would fetch the chaise lounge, a contraption made up of metal and soft plastic that would burn your hide if your forgot to put a towel down first. She'd set it up just past the porch, her bottle of coke and pack of peanuts close by, and tell me not to bounce that golf ball and make the mistake of letting it hit her, because that would bring all kinds of trouble. That little AM radio would continue to play, random songs mixed with local news and weather, and I'd dance and bounce for hours at a time, wishing I were anyone and anywhere else.
I wake my 9 year old at 7:30 a.m., urging her out of bed and downstairs, coaxing her all the way. We hurry through a breakfast of cereal and juice, dressing in clothes laid out the night before.
Lunch is packed and stored in her insulated lunch bag, sporting her name on the outside, napkins and a Hershey’s kiss inside along with the contents. No foods touch in transit or when it’s laid out on a picnic table beside other lunch bags, holding similar sandwiches, chips and apples. She has picked out what she’ll eat that day, choosing to pack a lunch instead of buy whatever is on the menu at camp. She’s a picky eater, and we cater to her wishes, wanting her to have everything we didn’t.
We make sure her pink butterfly tote, embroidered with her name above the butterfly, is packed with her swimsuit, sunscreen, a towel, goggles, extra clothes, and money for the snack bar. In case there’s any kind of accident, mishap, or crisis, there’s an extra set of clothes in the tote as well….just in case.
As I drop her off at summer camp, the director greets me, and I sign her in. I make sure the director knows it’s ok for her to go in the 4 foot section, and sign the paperwork allowing that change from 3 foot section she was allowed to go in at the beginning of the summer. She assures me there will be a staff member stationed at the 4 foot line to make sure no one will drift over the unseen line and be in any kind of danger.
I go back home to work, heading upstairs to my office with my sweet tea and phone, turning on my laptop while hitting the iTunes on the iPad and smile as music fills the air. I spend all day online, creating and posting, answering emails and comments, video conferencing, attending online meetings and communicating with the world from the comfort of my home.
When I pick my girl up at 4:30, I sign her out as the teacher smiles and waves, making sure to point at the sign for tomorrow’s field trip, hoping I will remember to dress her in her red camp t-shirt and tennis shoes. I make a note on my phone so I won’t forget and we head for home. As she gets settled in the car, I ask about her day and she fills me in on getting to swim in the 4 foot section of the pool, making sure I know who splashed who and that it certainly wasn’t her fault if there was water where it shouldn’t be.
We get home and she wants to play on the Wii until dinner time, cheering and jumping up and down with each hit or toss of the baseball. As we eat dinner, we talk about tomorrow’s field trip, and how much money she should take for the gift shop, finally agreeing that we’d each chip in $2.00 with me secretly hoping spending her own money will somehow magically make her appreciate whatever trinket she buys that much more.
And as she gets ready for bed, changing into her gown, brushing her hair and teeth, and heading into her room, my mind plays tricks on me and I see her pause at her dresser, push a dusty button that no longer has any numbers on it, and hear the faint sound of music float into the room. She adjusts the foil wrapped antenna, pointing it more toward the window at the other side of her room, and nudging the button just a smidge to the right so the static is a little less noticeable…..and then I see her twirl and dance just a little, acting like a 9 year old does, unsupervised and uncaring about the world around me…..
143 times.....that's how many times a day I want to tell her about golf balls, concrete patios and radio antennas.....
This was originally published on the Lose the Cape Blog. You can find out more about that Fabulous Blog and Amazing Podcast by clicking here.