July 28, 2008

Playing Chase

All little children love the parental interactive games, i.e. peek-a-boo, hide-and-go-seek, etc. Typically it doesn't matter who is playing with them or which of the games it is, if they can reel in a willing participant, their hearts are content.
While my boys get excited just to play, as I said, they both have always had their favorite adult-included games. Ridge's is bucking bulls, a never-ending living room rodeo with Ridge as the cowboy. Guess who gets to be the bull?
While Rolan loves this horseplay, the sport of his heart has always been chase. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that pleases him more than someone, anyone, running after him. As he is dashing down the hall or wherever else the game may be taking place, he periodically looks over his shoulder to see if his playmate is still in pursuit. If they are, his eyes burst to half dollars and a deep giggle bellows into his lungs. He is off again.
He loves this so much that he has, in fact, learned to tease my mom's dog Harley with food to incite a good game of chase. I didn't realize he had started doing this until we were at Mom's for the Fourth of July, her birthday. From the corner of my eye, I spotted Rolan extending a piece of bread to Harley's nose, shaking it back and forth. Just as I was thinking, "That's sweet. He's feeding his buddy Harley," Rolan yanked the food back into his torso, turned on a pivot and sped toward the other side of the yard. To his delight, Harley took the bait, running just a few steps behind Rolan for a minute or two. Each time Harley would finally tire of the game, Rolan would tear a little bite of bread of his slice and toss it to Harley. The was, of course, just enough to reignite Harley's interest in the bread, thus opening him up for another round of play. Once again, Rolan would wave the bread in Harley's face, jerk it from him as though he should be saying, "SIKE!" Knowing how much Rolan loves chase, I was really impressed with his ingenuity. I would've played chase with him myself, but I was too busy celebrating our country's independence the way our Founding Father's intended. Of course, Anneheuser Busch was sold to some Belgium brewing company, so I don't know how I will commemorate the holiday next year.
Harley hasn't been the only prey in Rolan's game. Hell, he's been doing the same thing at our house for a long time. He keeps his little eyes constantly peeled for some possession forbidden from his touch to be within his reach. Once it is, he snatches it up, making sure his actions are deliberate enough for you to see that he has it. For the most part, he takes the same path each time: as soon as he knows that you see him, he spins off toward the hall, looking over his shoulder gleefully, eagerly hoping that you've taken the bait and then hustles into our bedroom and scurries behind our headboard. The space between the wall and our headboard is small enough that only he and his brother can fit between it. He knows if he makes it back there, his beloved game of chase can be prolonged for quite some time.
Rolan has had some wrecks in the pursuit of this game, although none has been quite as brutal as his collision Saturday night. Rowdy came in from a long, laboring day in the punishing Oklahoma heat Saturday evening, ready to kick back in his recliner and soak up some of the holy air conditioning in the house. I had just pulled supper from the oven and stove: corn flake chicken, Brussels Sprouts Aug Shonda and mashed potatoes. The boys were ready to eat, too, so all three dug in.
After the meal was reduced to lowly crumbs, Rowdy asked if we could walk down to the pins and assist him for just a second. Predictably, the boys were bouncing up and down, squealing, "I want to go! I want to go!"
And I like helping Rowdy. I'm not always the best help since, honestly, I don't know what the hell is going on as far as ranching is concerned, but I like helping, nonetheless. Rowdy works 7 days a week, so if my bumbling assistance is any help, I'm willing to give it.
So, we headed out in the golden Oklahoma evening, warm and marshy as fresh bread pudding in a window seal. I love this time of day in the summertime, or at least I tolerate it. In fact, it is the only time I willingly leave my home until, like, November.
Rowdy needed to put a bale of hay out in the south cable pins, a big lot with two smaller pins within it. He and Ridge jumped into the tractor while Rolan and I opened the gate. As the two of us were waiting for the two of them, Rolan looked for ways to entertain himself and, of course, the old, trusty, stand-by game of chase was his first instinct. At first we teetered around the amputated bed of a truck long since retired. I would stand at one end, staring at a giggling Rolan on the polar opposite side of the antique metal, and then dart over one of the edges. With each sudden move, Rolan would succumb to a deep, rolling laughter.
And then a large telephone pole standing out one foot from the fence caught his eye. He has a real knack for locating these types of areas, big enough for him to maneuver in out and of like a flounder in a fish bowl bolting through plastic rocks and reef, but small enough that no adult can venture behind it to grab him. Really, it's perfect. This is a true instance when being two-years-old is an advantage.
He ran to the upright pole, going back and forth, back and forth for several seconds. His bright face could've illuminated a dark room. As I was playing along, taking in the images of his joy, he grew brave to entice me further into his sport of chase. He inched out from behind the pole, locking his eyes into mine, purposely tempting me to come closer to him. Slowly, I crept over. When he was near my reach, he sprung back toward the pole, looking over his shoulder to enjoy his cleaver victory. Just as he turned his head back toward the pole, he was upon it. His nose collided violently the sturdy piece of round wood, his body slammed into the solid earth. All the excitement he was consumed with just seconds before was vanished, replaced with sharp pain and shrill screams.
Without missing a single beat, I scooped my two-year-old son up from soil. This isn't the first accident resulting from his beloved chase, but his reaction is typically the same. It can be described with only two words: heart break. As any scorned lover can testify, betrayal by the object of your affection is a stinging blow. Perhaps that description seems a bit melodramatic to you, but that is seriously the best way I would describe it. I know that a big part of his tears are shred for the physical anguish of crashing face first with a telephone pole, but as his mother, I also know that a big bulk of them were because he was suddenly yanked from the warm, fuzzy feeling he gets from chase into semi-consciousness on the ground.
After I gave Rolan a few minutes of undivided pampering, he was fully recovered. In fact, we spent the entire walk home from the pins, you guessed it, playing chase.

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