“Where’s my echo?” Ben asks as he stops on our front porch and turns to look up at me.
“Walk back this way a little bit,” I say.
He lets out a test shout. It comes back at us from the neighbor’s house across the street.
“Oh, there’s my echo. It was just waiting out there for me.”
Recent heavy rains sogged our back yard and forced us onto the front porch and the driveway. This made for a great alternative to my pushing Ben in his backyard swing. (when do most kids learn to do that for themselves, anyway?).
Ben had played with sidewalk chalks at friends’ houses, but this was his first time wielding the compressed sticks of colored powder at home. Yeah, I know, that description was kind of lame. I’ve leaving it.
“Daddy, can you draw a hopscotch?”
(Click any image for larger and sharper version.)
“I’ll try son, but I’m not sure I remember how to do it. Do I draw a square?”
“No, you draw a rectangle.”
I dragged the brand new, chubby white chalk over the rough driveway cement. By the time I finished making four lines, a quarter of the piece was gone. I set to work making the jumping squares. Er, um, rectangles.
“Hey, Daddy, you made a window. And another window. And another window.”
Although Ben’s pretty good at a few letters, he wanted me to add the words. The chalk was so small by that point I needed a roach clip to hold it.
“Let’s make a bunny,” Ben said. He drew two long, narrow shapes that looked like planaria without the weird eyes. Side by side, they overlapped each other.
On his request, I added what I thought might resemble a rabbit’s face (What’s gonna work? Teeeeamwork!). Drawing never has been my strength. The ears were much better than the face. Then Ben drew some go-go-Gadget legs on the thing and tilted things back in my favor.
I grouped these Winnie the Pooh chalks to add some color. Ben grouped his fingers to add that human touch. It’s a good thing we didn’t end up using these, because I’d hate to scrape off Winnie the Pooh’s face for a bad rendition of an animal.
“Let’s draw Mommy,” Ben said.
I did. Well, I made some lines that I hoped resembled a female. My wife’s nose is petite in real life, and although she has a big, smart brain, her head is not out of proportion with her body. She has more than four hairs on her head. In fact, it looked like I had been using a roach clip for something else entirely.
Here’s the sheep I made, in homage to Richie Cunningham’s “Eye Love Ewe” fiasco. I think he used sidewalk chalk, too, didn’t he?
I knew that the picture above would prove my love, so I didn’t need to give the sheep the full Richie Cunningham treatment.
A couple weeks ago, some kid told Ben to shut up at an indoor bounce play birthday party.
He had laughed so much that an older boy ahead of him on the huge inflatable slide’s ladder turned to him and told him to stop. (In that boy’s defense, it was Ben’s annoying, forced, maniacal laugh. But still — nobody messes with my son, you know?)
“Ben, don’t worry about what that boy said. You can laugh as much as you want while you’re here. That’s what this place is all about,” I said. Shannon was right there with us saying the same thing.
Ben sat on a bench crying for a few minutes, and still pouted as he slowly ambled his way over to the inflatable obstacle course.
“Hey, Daddy!” Ben shouted through his megawatt smile as he turned to face me. “My feelings aren’t hurt any more!”
If only the rest of us could so quickly and easily overcome our emotional issues. Then we all could do more of this: