I’ve been in the park across the street late on a Friday night before with my Lab and a glass of creamy, red wine discreetly hidden in a coffee mug. Sometimes by myself, sometimes not.
It’s big with a mile-long walkway weaving through it. It's "alive” during the day. At night, though, everything comes to a rest. You can hear the breeze blowing through tall, prairie grasses the elementary school children tend and the arcs of pond fountains spraying through floodlit beams.
Last night after my friends left, close to 10:00, we both needed a walk to clear our heads. Grabbing the last of the wine, we headed across.
At the far end of the park, the tennis and basketball courts were bathed in light and little specs were running around. As we got closer, we could discern the figures.
Two sets of daddy/daughters.
My heart leapt as it often does when seeing this combination of parent/child. Something about it warms me from the inside out.
We paused to watch for a while.
The little girl on the far side of the tennis court was 5 or 6 years old. Neon green balls, probably 100 of them, littered the court. Her daddy hit them to her, one after another after another after another. And she returned them with ease and amazing precision for her age. Some sliced directly into the net but most balls closely cleared its top edge for a “winning shot”. They were not speaking, just stroking the balls back and forth.
The young girl standing on the basketball free-throw line was close to 10 years old. She was tall and lanky, all arms and legs. It was obvious she took after her daddy, who was planted directly under the basket. She rapidly rifled off balls, playing with two at a time, almost faster than he could pass them back. They’d break every minute or two for what I understood to be a critiquing of her efforts. She’d just nod and begin again.
It was lovely, at first, being a spectator for their shared time together but it left me feeling unsettled as well. It didn’t seem playful or fun, but regimented, drill-like, pressure-filled, at least to me. It seemed too late at night for this. (Not that my thoughts or opinions on the matter actually…matter.)
Walking away, I heard one daddy ask, “Are you done or do you want more?”
“I want more,” the little tennis phenom replied.
My heart felt a little lighter as I walked home after hearing her reply.
To my fellow “Moonshiners” over at Yeah Write, I apologize in advance for the probability that this weekend’s visits to your posts may not happen in a timely fashion. I need to get on a plane in a few hours. Arriverderci!!!