playtime

If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.

Tom Stoppard, dramatist

The child’s finger pointing forward and the big smile, told me everything. The young dad was jogging while he pushed his son in a racecar-shaped stroller around the neighborhood. This was the same dad I saw last week stop, drop and knock out a few pushups next to the stroller, then jog on. I had mentioned it was good for the dad to be in shape; our kids need us not just to keep up but to lead them into adulthood. It was not all that long ago that I was going through physical conditioning as a new Chief Petty Officer with a dozen others twenty years my junior. I did not just keep up but tried to be best at the games. And I brought it home, challenging my teenagers and their pals to pushup contests. It was the best years of my mid-life; there never was time to be ‘too old’. Though I have not kept up that sort of conditioning in a few years, my three-year old grandson, and infant granddaughter are inspiring me to get back into shape. When we take him for the afternoon to help his parents, it is a full-on playdate at the park, a long walk, or playing one of the games he makes up on the spot. “Run and jump”; “run, hop, and jump”; or “run after the ball” are his latest outdoor games. Zander fully expects and encourages us to run with him the whole time. It probably is payback for giving him a chocolate chip cookie.

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