Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Play's the Thing

I love to watch my kids play.

I love to watch their minds figuring out how to use each toy, each apparatus. I love watching them approaching other children, both friends and strangers. I love watching their joy as they discover something fun and exciting and new.

A few days ago, I brought both my kids to “Bounce for a Cure,” a fundraising event hosted by some friends of mine. The day raises funds for the charity “Voices of Hope,” ( which is a vocal and theatrical group I am honored to have been a part of for several years. The mission of Voices of Hope is to raise funds for cancer research. The group is comprised mainly of theatrical performers, most of whom have lost a family member or friend to cancer. Each of us sings in honor of someone we have lost to cancer, or in celebration of someone who has beaten cancer. Many of the members are even cancer survivors themselves. We each have a story of how cancer has touched our lives. Not only does the group as a whole put on several major performances each year which raise funds for the Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, but many individuals also raise funds on their own via their own personal skills and talents, from cake decorating to jewelry making to…well, having a yard that will fit multiple bouncy houses.

For the past several years, these particular members have rented a bunch of bouncy houses and opened their yard and their home to members and friends of the Voices of Hope family. For a donation to the cause, families get not only access to a racecar bouncy house, an obstacle course bouncy house, and a basketball shooting bouncy house, they get to play with a bunch of ride-on toys including a Big Wheel, a Cozy Coupe, a miniature pickup truck, and several tricycles, they have access to a “slack line,” a tire swing shaped like a bucking bronco, a cool play structure with a slide, multiple swings, and ladders, and a play house, and they get to snack on pizza, watermelon, pretzels, goldfish crackers, popcorn, and slush, washed down with ice cold lemonade. What a way to spend the afternoon!

And that’s exactly what we did. We spent the afternoon romping around in the sunshine. I chatted with other parents; my kids chatted with other kids. They raced from adventure to adventure, stopping only to come tell me about the new fun thing they had found, or to drag me over to watch them play.

But they didn’t need to drag me, because I was already watching them with great interest. After all, if I didn’t watch them, I would have missed lots of wonderful moments. Like when a little boy who had been playing with my son clapped him on the back and said, very matter-of-factly, “I like you, dude.” And I thought to myself, “Me too, kid. Me too.”

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