“Ball” or “How My Son and I Recreate the Violent Glory Days of the Roman Coliseum”

My Basement
My Basement

I’m sweating as I write this, but not because keystrokes are gargantuan tasks or due to the mental energy I’m expending. In fact, the only real mental energy I’m using up right now is the effort it’s taking to block out the Pandora station my wife chose to play before she left to pick up groceries. It’s called Family Christmas, and though ordinarily I’d love to hear the Disney characters belt out “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (and don’t even ask me to show you my Goofy impression—seriously, I could get voiceover work right now if the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Goofy called in with laryngitis), the cacophony of Donald Duck squawking out Christmas carols makes it awfully difficult to concentrate.

Ah. The song just ended. Now we’ve got Frank Sinatra singing “Let It Snow,” which is a slight improvement (though I can’t help but wonder if there are veiled mob threats imbedded in the seemingly innocuous lyrics).

But like I said earlier…I’m sweating. The reason for my perspiration is a game my son and I play called “Ball.” Wild, ferocious, and occasionally dangerous, Ball is one of my absolute favorite pastimes.

It involves a small, durable (note: VERY durable) inflatable ball (ours has Winnie the Pooh holding a jar of honey…you know, because you don’t get manlier than Winnie the Pooh), the basement landing, and our gladiatorial spirits. You think I’m exaggerating? If you could see us play this game, you’d swear you’d been transported back to the time of bloodthirsty crowds, wronged generals, and depraved emperors.

My Son
My Son

Dash (code name for my seven-year-old boy and fellow gladiator) begins the game by tossing the ball against the wall of the landing (the wall faces the main basement family room). You score by hitting the wall with the ball. Sometimes we riff off of this and award him points for blocking my attempts. Dash attempts to further complicate the scoring process and thus enhance his prospects of conquest by ratifying the “Ball” bylaws with mid-game amendments (“No, Daddy. Here’s another way I can score: if I throw the ball and it hits you in the face, I get five points,” or “If I bounce the ball off the wall and catch it, I get twenty points and you go back to zero. And I get to eat Doritos for dinner tonight”).

pooh ball
The Weapon of the Modern Gladiator

The game involves strange bounces, a lot of wrestling, Dash vaulting over furniture to retrieve the ball, Dash getting furious with me if I score more than two or three in a row, and Dash knocking me senseless with a blindside tackle.

Why, you might be wondering, am I blogging about Ball?

Because I’m really, really happy. And exhausted. Playing with my kids tends to have those dual effects on me. So now my baby daughter is waking up from her prolonged nap. My wife and my older daughter will be home any minute with Christmas groceries.

Dash Finishing Me Off
Dash Finishing Me Off

And I return you to your regularly scheduled programming. On our stereo Nat King Cole is singing “Oh Holy Night.” My son is tickling me to get me off the computer. My awakening daughter will soon be clamoring for Keputch (her name for ketchup).

And yes, we feed her more than just ketchup!

If she behaves.

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