At Play

The Scene: The B-nasement—home to crash pit, yoga ball, tumbling mat, mini trampoline, and extra-sturdy bean bag.

Jonah: Daddy, can we play the seed game?

John: No, I can’t play right now.

A game commences (not the seed game, after all) with John at the helm. And he wonders why they don’t respect his boundaries.

Though Jonah asked for the seed game, he made up another game on the spot (as he’s wont to do) involving a mommy-doesn’t-care-if-it-gets-dirty-or-ripped blanket in which John rolls him tight. Chinese finger trap tight. Jonah loves the feeling of heavy covering, and nearly every game he invents (all of which are very physical) requires either small spaces, a heavy weight, or a tight wrap. A few weeks back I buried him in snow, and he stayed there for forty-five minutes while Gabriel and I shoveled the entire driveway. Even at the end, I had to make him come in. Even when he was freezing cold and crying, he didn’t want to be undug.

My joy of late is Jonah and Gabriel together. G is finally old enough to run and chase. What great fun! J coaxes G down the stairs into the basement, treating him like a scared puppy: “C’mon, c’mon. Come down the stairs Gabriel. C’mon.” They play silly wrestling games after snacks after school while I’m fixing supper (until the fun deteriorates when one or the other—usually G—smashes into something hard or has just had Enough).

G thinks J hung the moon. He’ll start laughing his big belly laugh, tickled by some word Jonah says. So of course, J says it again and again and again, the laughter escalating as Jonah gets his full sillies on.

Some days Gabriel finds a treasure (i.e. rock, stick, half-eaten squirrel nut) for Jonah during the day to give him after school. “Jo-Jo! Jo-Jo! Ocket!” We put it in his pocket. J’s usually not all that interested (it is, after all, just a broken stick or dirty grey rock), but he’ll hold it for a moment before dropping it along the way.

A few days ago as we were walking home from school, Jonah exclaimed, “I have a present for Gabriel in my pocket!” He tried to get it out, and tried again, giving up momentarily. A few blocks later he finally pulls out a rock the size of my fist and thrusts it at me—“Here!” We gave it to Gabriel together, who declared, “Gaba! Ock! Ome!”

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