School’s out, the sun is shining, and summer is officially here. I have proof:
We went for a walk through the woods and down the road and ended up at the mini-golf course — a definite sign that summer is here!
We like mini-golf. We don’t exactly play by the rules, but then again, when do we ever play by the rules around here? But mini-golf is quick and easy and lots of fun, especially when you roar through the holes at high speed, adding up scores in your head and chanting “Go, Mama, Go!” every time it’s Mama’s turn to put.
We’ll just pretend they cheer because I’m the greatest mini-golf player that ever lived… and we won’t show you Mama’s score card. Ahem.
But the most fascinating thing about mini-golf is watching the way the kids have changed over the years as we play. At first, we played for the sheer novelty of it. I mean really, how many times have you ever handed a two-year-old a pint-sized metal club and a brightly coloured ball and said “Go ahead, sweetheart! Wack the ball!” and then giggled to yourself as you watch them swing and miss and swing and miss and swing and hit Daddy in the shins?
Not that that’s ever happened.
Later, we played as something to occupy them for an hour on a hot afternoon when the boredom monster was rearing its ugly head, and K had his chance to giggle at his 2 year old sister as she swung and missed and swung and missed and swung and hit… something or other. A bug, or a piece of lint, or a pinecone, since she likes pinecones so very, very much. Sometimes the ball, but just as often not.
Their personalities came out quite strongly every time we played. Where K would try and get frustrated and want to stop, B would merely shrug off her failures and promptly bend the rules, picking up the ball and running down the green to deposit it in the cup before doing a little happy dance that involved arms in the air (watch out for the club!), jumping in circles until your legs tire (which takes a while), and many, many loud cheers. She’s good at cheering.
I came to treasure those crazy moments of hers when she would snatch the ball off the green and run for the hole, her little legs already coiling themselves like springs in preparation for the big jump for joy that seemed to just keep bouncing and bouncing and bouncing until all the bounce managed to work itself out. I know it was probably wrong to openly enjoy her cheating ways, but in the face of such enthusiasm… well, what Mama could resist?
As they grew, K became much more strict about the need to keep an actual score, on paper, written oh-so-carefully with the tiny little pencils they give you and carefully tallied at the end to find out who was the better golfer. B was much more relaxed about the whole thing, and just as likely to invent a number when you asked her how many swings it took her and she had forgotten to count, but gradually she came on board and the game became much more focussed and mature.
Now at the ripe old ages of eight and almost-ten, they’ve developed a much keener appreciation for competition and scores are duly tracked and poured over and contemplated, making par is celebrated with a quiet smile or a whispered “yes!”, and at the end of the game they try with all their might to drop their balls in the “free game” slot of the ball return, knowing that to do so is to guarantee another day of mini-golf in the near future, but merely shrug philosophically when they instead get “take off 3 points.” Better luck next time.
Mini-golf has become so much more reserved than it used to be. They still enjoy it, but the days of watching my daughter jump and clap and cheer for herself are long, long gone.
Or so I thought.
This week, B managed a hole in one and just that fast she was two years old again, jumping and shouting, her curly hair bouncing and her hands high overhead as she celebrated her unexpected success, and this Mama’s heart rejoiced at the sight. They grow and change more and more with every passing day, but some things always stay the same.