We were on vacation recently, staying in a place that has all sorts of fun things to keep active kids of most ages occupied and entertained. One of these attractions is a Fun Barn in which there is a bounce house, a ping-pong table, a climbing wall, and an area in which kids (um… and adults) can have nerf-ball battles. This area is caged in with netting and has hundreds of foam balls with several air powered shooters strategically placed around a climbing structure with a slide, making it easy for groups to have rousing battles. So we did.
It was after dinner on our last night. As four teenagers and two adults, we were able to have quite a battle before some younger children showed up, and we had to turn the energy down a notch. It was getting dark by then, so we decided to leave the Fun Barn to walk back to the lodge. It was chilly for the end of April, but the days were getting longer, the snow had finally (mostly) melted, and the flowers were starting to bloom. We could hear spring peepers off in the distance.
As we exited the Fun Barn, J wanted to go to the playground. It was getting dark, and the sign posted on the playground fence claimed the area closed at dusk. But a simple sign would not deter J. “Let’s just go see,” she said, running ahead with W to check out the playground. “The chain’s not up!” she reported of the yellow plastic chain used to discourage after hours playground use.
Gleefully, the two of them slipped through the gate and ran to the merry-go-round. Not a carousel merry-go-round, but a playground merry-go-round—the kind that most schools did away with years ago as children flew off when they spun too fast and couldn’t hold on. My two each grabbed a side and started running to get the merry-go-round moving.
“When I say THREE, jump on!” called W. “One, two, THREE!” They both landed with the muffled thud of rubber soles on metal platform. They hung their heads off the edge, hair flying up in the centrifugal force. They completed this exercise several times before their activity diminished to lying on the platform while the movement slowed, looking up at the branches of the tree above.
“Mom, can I have your camera?” J asked, and I handed it over. She started taking pictures from her spot on her back looking up at the sky. She spent several minutes clicking, checking the the screen, sighing and trying again.
What she didn’t realize was that it was too dark for pictures. And she also didn’t realize that what she wanted to capture was not the branches above her and the moon in the background. She wanted to capture the moment, the feeling of a beautiful spring night, vacation, and family time spent together. She wanted to capture the spinning, the breeze, the feeling of going nowhere, and the thrill of the ride.