During times of upheaval & more-than-the-usual-degree of stress, there’s alot to be said for the familiar. No doubt, that’s one reason common wisdom says don’t change your job (if you’re lucky to have one & you can stay there) right after the death of a close family member, or a divorce. Not to mention mac&cheese & Frasier….
Young children know this. They cling to the familiar when the rest of their routine has been, of necessity and one-hopes-for-the-future-good, temporarily cast out the window. In grandma’s house, the familiar is a game called green balls & white balls.
These 30 count -1 inch diameter hard plastic balls are an unexpectedly versatile toy. Really, amazing learning objects. All about the property of spheres. Gravity. Planets. Our Star: the Sun. Numbers & counting. Sound. Mass. Follow-through. Sharing. Taking turns. Cleaning-up. Who wouldda thunk these little balls had such capacity.
My time with grandson Dante has technically been halved due to joint custody. One day for me, three days for each parent. I have a hard time understanding that this is the best arrangement, but what can I do. So our scheduled Tuesday together is unbelievably precious.
This past Tuesday we went to blue ball park, a.k.a. Anna Jean Cummings County Park in Soquel, CA. Husband R was Anna Jean’s friend and a member of Save Soquel during the early years. Now Dante & I hobnob there & make ‘bacon pie’ in the sand with other toddlers & parents, grandparents. This week the daddies outnumbered the mommies. We made friends with 2-year old Valentina & mom Miriam of Michoacán - her husband transferred here four months ago to be a trainer for Driscoll’s. She has a master’s degree in chemical engineering. I’d love to learn more spanish, & she, more english; the youngsters don’t know it, but we’d love for them to do the same. This makes me hopeful. It’s not always easy to connect with our Latino Live Oak neighbors, I find.
The green balls & white balls are from the game Pyraos. The goal of the game is to place the top ball of your color on the pyramid. When R & I play he usually wins. With a 3-year old, though, the rules are endlessly permutable – no need, even, to make a pyramid, if you’d rather roll the balls around, or hurl them down the black (PVC pipe from OSH) tubes to crash into each other or into the bookshelf or our laps. It seems to me that this is the epitome of a good game. We’ve played this many Tuesday afternoons, especially in that fragile post-long-nap-time, when dreams of cuddly kitties & talking trains are mixed with longings for mommy & daddy.
For a while I thought green balls & white balls might be a unhealthy obsession. I don’t anymore. We, with that little guy leading the way, embrace the familiar each day with a new twist. His delight is my lesson: this is the way life is.