I’m very excited to again this week join a talented group of women who connect each Friday in an online, unedited flash mob free write based on a one-word prompt from our fearless leader Kate Motaung. My timer is set for 5 minutes; let’s see where the word “play” takes me.

Summertime when I was a child growing up in a mid-sized mid-western town in a fairly close-knit community with only one road in/out was filled with play.

Once I’d exchanged my jammies for shorts and a t-shirt, waited impatiently for my Cheerios to reach that perfect place between crunchy and mushy, and then scarfed them down, I was out the door. It was time to play with my best friend, Mary, and the other kids in the neighborhood.

Hop-scotch, Red Rover Red Rover, Mother May I, Barbies, bike-riding, freeze tag, hide-and-seek, jumping rope. Just a few of the activities that consumed those precious hours between running out the door after breakfast and returning for lunch eaten with my mom, sister, Chris and Nancy Hughes, their son Bob and wife Kim and his son Tom, and a whole cast of interesting characters in Oakdale.

By the way, I’m somewhat surprised that Tom didn’t cause me to have some sort of inferiority complex. He was born to Bob and first-wife Lisa when I was 3 years old. But by the time I was 12, he’d been shipped off to boarding school (twice), used drugs, joined the Army and served in Viet Nam, and well . . . done all sorts of things. All I’d been doing was playing with my friends, reading Tiger Beat,  and daydreaming about Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy.

But I digress.

After lunch, I was out the door again. More bike-riding and other activities, popsicles eaten while hunched over slightly-spread legs, and drinks from a garden hose in the back yard until my dad’s car pulled into the neighborhood. A foolproof sign that dinner was almost ready. I’d hop on my bike or run home to help set the table. But again, after I’d eaten (left-over-from-Sunday-dinner fried chicken or roast on Monday, meat loaf on Tuesday . . . ), it was time to play again until the streetlights came on. 

Play. I could play for hours.

I quit playing for many years. Laying out in the sun with my friends, coated with iodine-enhanced baby oil, became much cooler than bike riding and Barbies. And then there was college . . . and work.

But then I had children, and play became part of my life again.

But they moved on to high school and college and work.

And it occurs to me this morning that I haven’t played in quite some time.

I have chores to do and errands to run today.

But while I’m out, I’m going to buy a box of 64 crayons and some coloring books.

On my way home, I’m going to stop at the park and swing on the huge playground swing set.

Then I’m going to buy a chocolate milkshake and come back home and color.

I’m going to play.