God, Kick Ball and Donkey Kong
For an hour each Sunday morning, I teach my son’s Faith Formation class (i.e. Sunday school), which is made up of 15 first-graders who never cease to amaze me with their enthusiasm in learning about God’s great love.
During class, I’ve been known to stand on a chair and reenact God’s booming voice to Moses in the desert, or jump up and down when one of my students nails an answer. I sing, I dance, I do just about everything to engage these kids and make learning fun. It’s just what I do. It’s just how I am.
But on this Sunday morning, I just wasn’t feeling it. I woke up sluggish and tired, a by-product no doubt of juggling the kids and work while my husband traveled on business the week before. Whenever he’s out of town, the fatigue of running the household as a single parent usually doesn’t hit me until a couple days after he returns home. It’s like a delayed reaction so to speak. His plane landed at 5 p.m. Friday night, so by this morning, exhaustion was due to take over, and in fact, it already had overnight, in the form of stress dreams.
After downing an extra cup of coffee, I made it clear to God that if He expected me to inspire some young hearts today, then He better cough up the energy for me to do so. Feeling feisty and somewhat resentful, I drove myself and my seven-year-old son, Ian, to church (in the pouring rain, mind you), all the while focused on giving myself the reward of an afternoon nap later that day.
Not surprisingly, God came through, injecting me with the spunk needed to bring my “A” game to class. Even my co-teacher, Dan, noticed my exuberance. At the end of the hour, though, I could feel my fuel level start to run low. Afternoon nap, here I come, I thought. It won’t be long now.
But instead of walking directly to our car, Ian and a couple of his friends wanted to stop by the gymnasium for some free play before going home.
“Fine,” I moaned. “But just for a few minutes.”
A few minutes did indeed pass as I stood there weight shifted to one hip, chatting with another parent, a friend of mine, as we watched the boys put together a make-shift game of basketball. One thing turned to another and the next thing we know, the boys are playing a game of kick ball – a favorite from my childhood. I am distracted at this point as I strain to listen to my friend Jim go on about something that I can’t remember now. I look back and forth from him to the game underway, trying to concentrate on what he is telling me. And then a loose ball hurdles toward us. Instinctively, I pick it up and hurl is back. An older boy looks at me and comments, “Wow. Nice throw.”
Next thing I know, my friend Jim and I are right in the middle of the game. Another dad joins us. It’s now kids versus parents. The game is on like Donkey Kong.
And just like that I become a kid again, catching fly balls, trying to throw the kids out, running in my Sunday clothes, breaking a sweat, sliding in my spring sandals bejeweled with bling.
I am having fun. I am experiencing pure joy. I am that young girl again, with all the energy in the world and the endurance of a Cheetah. (OK, perhaps that’s taking it too far.)
As my glasses start slipping down my nose from perspiration, Ian tugs on my shirt and tells me he’s hungry. Really hungry. I look at my watch and it’s indeed after lunch time.
“Just one more play,” I tell him.
Now he’s the one who moans.
One more play turns into three, and at this point, Ian is keeled over on the sideline, acting like he is dying. Oh, he’s being so dramatic, I say to myself. Just like me.
So we leave. The other players whine. The game was just getting good.
On the way home I’m feeling peppy. I crank the music. Ian tells me again that he’s hungry and indeed, dying. I feel energized. When we get home, I tell my husband what we did. An impromptu game of kick ball … after Sunday school … on a raining day … in our nice clothes. How cool is that?
And now, hours after Sunday school has ended, I am writing – still. In fact, I’ve written all afternoon – without a nap. That game of kick ball was just the thing I needed. It allowed the little girl inside of me to kick up her heels, catch a few balls and nail a few outs. And just like that, I am tired no more.
Until tomorrow, of course.