Growth and Bouncy Balls

An interesting surprise in my shoe.

An interesting surprise in my shoe.

Life with children is never dull. They stretch your boundaries, try your patience, and often thrust you outside of your comfort zone.

I often laugh at the fact that I ended up with two boys. And not just two boys, but two hyper-social extroverts that have never met a stranger in their short lives. If you are reading this and you know me, you know my description of them certainly does not fit me. I am often forced into conversations with strangers now because of my boys. While the fact doesn’t thrill me, I know stretching me in this way is good for me and has helped me grow.

I also don’t like to draw attention to myself. Blending into the background is preferable, as far as I am concerned. That task is hard to do when you are at the mall with a five-year-old and a bouncy ball. Allow me to indulge in a brief rant.

Do your kids have a toy that you just can’t stand and seems to cause far more trouble than it possibly should? Or do you remember having a toy that drove your parents bonkers? Bouncy balls would definitely make my top ten list.

So picture the unfolding scene with me. My youngest and I go to the mall to run some errands. I despise shopping and try to only do it when I have to. After making a couple of quick stops, we go to Chick-fil-A for lunch. As we are standing in line, my son’s eyes suddenly light up as he pulls a quarter out of his pocket. “OOh, money for a bouncy ball!” he yells as he sprints around the corner. Now I must mention, I don’t think I have ever bought him something out of a machine at the mall or anywhere. He’s learned the locations of much sought after treasures due to the generosity of other family members. I must also mention that I believe the quarter was not just “found” in his pocket, but was placed there with full intention to buy a ball because he knew we were going to the mall.

We pass the ball back and forth on the table as we wait for our food…a decent way to pass the time. The ball is put away as we eat. Then things go downhill from there. The ball escapes as we are packing up. It bounces wildly all over the top level of the food court as little man chases it down. Heads turn and eyebrows raise ever so slightly. Sigh.

We make our way to Target. My sweet menace rides seated in the back of the cart. He pretends a few times that the ball has gotten away from him, but I know better…until. We are almost ready to make our way to the checkout line. This time the ball really does get away from him. It takes off across the aisle right in front of the cart of another shopper. My son is shrieking, “My bouncy ball! My bouncy ball!” The ball wildly leaps its way into the men’s clothing area and finally comes to rest under a clothing rack.

Meanwhile, a man, probably in his fifties, has stopped to watch the entire spectacle chuckling the entire time. The gracious lady, nearly accosted by the cursed ball, is kind enough to dig in under the clothes rack and retrieve it with a smile. So much for blending into my environment. There is now a spotlight shining down on us for all to see. Sigh again.

I wish the saga ended there. At least the rest didn’t involve anyone outside of my own family. When we get home, a mad hunt for said ball ensues. Is it in the back seat of the car? The front seat? In my purse? Where did it go?

Relief descends for a brief time once found. The ball is bounced around the house for awhile, then brother gets home from school. Things get noisy with the ball. I shoo them outside. Minutes later there is wailing. Loud wailing. Older brother rushes in to proclaim that the bane of my existence this day has rolled into the flower garden and cannot be found. This is sheer tragedy, even though there are probably ten other bouncy balls in the house almost exactly the same except for an alteration in the pattern of the colors.

The ball is not found and may I say, I am happy? The rest may soon make their way into the trash like some other items I won’t mention, you know, like maybe moon dough.

I knew I had to write this entry when I picked up my shoe yesterday to put away in the closet and found it full of bouncy balls. I simply shook my head, took a picture, and smiled.

Through all of this I am stretched, molded, and refined in the slightest of ways. And ultimately…I am grateful.

Questions: What are some toys that would make your top ten list? How do your children stretch you?

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