This is not a post about coming of age, but rather the passage of time and how it steals our youthfulness.
Tonight on the way home, as my heart was singing the TGIF song and I was checking the grocery list in my mind, I glanced to the right while stopped at a traffic light and spied a little girl, about 7, waving to me from the back seat of her mother’s black Lexus SUV. I waved back and she laughed, then ducked out of sight, only to resurface seconds later for an irresistible peek to see if I was still looking.
And I waved again, much to her obvious delight. She kept ducking and peeking until the light changed, then gave me a final wave as her mom steered the car right.
My sister and I used to do the very same thing when we were kids, usually as my parents traveled I-287 in White Plains, NY. Not everyone waved back. I particularly remember the scowl of a middle-aged woman with an unfortunate lack of chin. (Yes, mean as it was, we laughed at her cartoonish profile.) I’ll never understand why some people didn’t play along – what did they have to lose after all?
But those who returned our greeting made our day. Pay dirt! Traci and I would collapse into fits of giggles, then catch our breaths and try again. And again and again.
(Remember, this was the 1970s. There were no iPods, DVD players or other gadgets to pass the time. The radio was tuned to whatever Dad (doo-wop) or Mom (country-western) chose. Or else we led endless rounds of “On Top of Old Smokey” and “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”)
Today’s little sprite kept me smiling the whole way home. But she got me thinking, too.
When was the last time you waved at a stranger?
When did you last spend the afternoon teaching yourself to blow a bubble inside a bubble with a contraband hunk of Hubba Bubba?
Or dig out the plastic bubble wand and blow soap bubbles to chase around the yard?
Have you jumped rope? Played hopscotch? Gotten up to kneesies playing Chinese jumprope?
Lost an hour to playing jacks? Chomped your way through a candy necklace or caught a sugar high off some Pixie Stix?
Are you still “it”? Do you still hide and seek or catch fireflies in a jar? Can you navigate red light/green light if you’re not behind the wheel?
When was the last time you played catch, dodged a ball, threw a Frisbee or flew a kite?
Have you played Madlibs (and used words other than “fart”)?
Or laughed until tears ran down your face (or milk ran out your nose)?
Like that Lexus with the little girl, it all glides away much too fast, doesn’t it?
Heading home, I pledged to make time each day for some youthful celebrations.
After I dealt with the irritable people crowding the aisles of the supermarket, that is.