August 16, 2006

Game over

When Boy in Black chooses an activity, he pursues it passionately. And the rest of the household, his siblings and extras, always follow. This summer his passion has been Ultimate Frisbee.

Neighbors have given the kids permission to play in the huge empty field across the road, a green lawn that is perfect for this sort of game. It seems strange that the neighbors keep the lawn so nicely mown because I've never seen anyone but my own kids use it, but it’s great for the kids to have their own private Ultimate Frisbee field.

Every afternoon, as soon as they get out of work, teenagers begin arriving for the game. They play in the heat, they play in the rain, they play despite the mosquitoes. They gather on the field, and try to match players up fairly to make two even teams, but no matter what they do, it's never completely even. Boy in Black's team almost always wins.

What's funny is that Boy in Black doesn't seem competitive. He's gentle and compassionate, and during a game, he yells encouraging things to people on both teams. He'll give me a compliment if I make a good catch, and he does the same with With-a-Why, who is the youngest and shortest player. I never hear him yelling for people to throw to him. And yet somehow, no matter where the frisbee goes, Boy in Black is there, his tall lanky body appearing out of nowhere, leaping high into the air or diving right onto the ground to make a dramatic catch. It's an exciting game -- filled with running and diving -- but it's a graceful game too, all the players moving and changing directions together like dancers each time the frisbee gets thrown.

Boy in Black prefers to play in bare feet -- and that means everyone plays in barefeet. Luckily, the grass is soft. On rainy nights, everyone comes into the house, soaking wet and muddy, the guys stripping off their clothes to wrap beach towels around their waists. On hot nights, they are red-faced and drenched with sweat. And no matter what the weather, everyone is thirsty, ready to gulp down big glasses of juice or water, ready to devour cut-up slices of watermelon.

I think we've had an Ultimate Frisbee game here every day that we've been home this summer, even during the heat wave. Every person in the household has played, including Spouse, me, and all of our extras. My daughter's friends have been recruited to play, and neighbor kids as well.

But this is the last week of Ultimate Frisbee. Already, the sun is setting earlier each evening, darkness closing in long before the frisbee players have tired. And other changes, inevitably, are creeping in as well. Sweet Funny Extra left for college Monday, the first of Boy in Black's friends to leave. Within the week, other frisbee players will disappear, one by one, leaving for colleges in the northeast. And a week from today, my two oldest children will pile their belongings into the car and move up to campus.

Ultimate Frisbee will be over for the season, at least for this household.

25 comments:

Jessica said...

Even though I cannot throw a frisbee to save my life (seriously - you should see me, I'm totally laughable), this sounds like so much fun....

Yankee, Transferred said...

OOH, only one week! It will be so weird for you! Older Daughter takes off on the 29th, and I can barely speak the words.

Chip said...

wow, the bittersweetness of the last summer after high school. But they'll be back playing UF next summer I'm sure. Sounds like lots of fun.

pPB said...

ultimate frisbee was THE game in div school. I stood around and prayed that the frisbee never came my way since I did not understand the game at all. One prayer that was answered, at least!

Are your kiddos going to the same college? It's going to be quieter at your house!

jo(e) said...

PPB: Yeah, they will both be at Snowstorm University. It's not very far away, of course, but they will both be living on campus so it will seem far away to me. And then my daughter is spending spring semester in London, which IS far away,no matter how you look at it.

Cats & Dogma said...

Oh my...If I had had backyard games like this to play every evening, I wouldn't be itching for the semester to start.

Maay your last games carry yo uthrough the cold months.

Kate said...

Ultimate Frisbee was a staple at my rural Western NY college. It was so fun because the people playing generally were the types in it just to have some fun an exercise. Like WAW, everyone would shout encouragement to anyone on the field who did something well. We even had tournaments sometimes. Barefoot, besandled or sneakered, Ultimate always provided a good time and fun memories.

cieux autres said...

In sports, there is competition to win, and then there is passion for beauty. Some of us play just to experience those brief moments of transcendence where the laws of gravity, friction and physiology seem to melt into rivers of poetry.

I bet BiB plays for the moment when running full speed, he leaps, stretched out parallel to the ground, fingertips snagging the disc inches above the those leaves of grass. Winning only provides the framework, the structure for the art.

Mona Buonanotte said...

No, summer CAN'T be over, it just can't! I am nowhere near ready for the 'schoolyear blues'....

Friday Mom said...

I played Ultimate on countless evenings in college. I have a suspicion his summer passion will be a great way for him to meet people in college.

It's hard for me to imagine how much quieter things will be for you. When one of yours moves out, you have a bunch of extras that head off to school too.

molly said...

It sounds like BIB is a born leader. Some kids are like that, aren't they. And they just naturally attract others to gather around them, regardless of the activity. Enjoy the last few days of summer.

jo(e) said...

Friday Mom: Yeah, I have no doubt that by this time next week, Boy in Black will have rounded up half the kids on his floor to go play Ultimate Frisbee. His enthusiasm is very infectious.

But yeah, we are losing way more than just my two kids -- I'll really miss all of the extras. It'll be quiet here with just Shaggy Hair Boy and With-a-Why. Well, of course, we will still have Blonde Niece, Skater Boy, Pirate Boy, Older Neighbor Boy, and Philosphical Boy. But still ... a smaller crowd.

BeachMama said...

I haven't been able to understand the whole Ultimate Frisbee thing, most likely due to the fact that I don't quite get frisbee in general ;).

It already feels like fall is setting in, with your kids and extras heading off to college and you heading back as well, it must seem like summer is closing up shop. Thankfully for us, this year we have planned our vacation for the last week of August, just I always had as a kid. One last hurrah before school starts, one week on the beach to darken our tans for the fall. We always missed out on preparations with friends at home, but we also had the cool back to school stuff from the States that everyone coveted. This year as A starts high school, this will be his treat.

timna said...

wait wait almond joy wants to come over to play. she is insisting that summer is not over.

I'm capitulating. the syllabi have taken over.

maybe another time we'll road trip to the blogging buddies. (plus she wants to meet shaggy haired boy)...

KLee said...

I'm so not athletic, but I think even a slug like me would enjoy UF. Since we're beach people (and water people, for that matter) our summers are filled with horseshoes and half-rubber.

I'm sorry that the season is winding down, but a new, nicely wrapped Frisbee would be a lovely "summer reminder" gift for your kids this Christmas. I bet they'd all smile, and soon be playing Frisbee in the snow, no matter where they all are. :)

Joy ~ aka Wild Child said...

jo(e), I've enjoyed reading your blog (about a month) and today was no exception.

Your story about Boy in Black's compassion and kindness reminds me of a friend I have who has three grown children. I knew them when they were ages 7 through 18+ (I and they have moved away). One time the youngest was gloating to one of her brothers that she was able to get a full scholarship he hadn't been able to. He told his mother, if that's what she needs to believe, fine...no hint of sarcasm or hurt feelings.

Parents who guide their children towards this kind of thought and behavior must be kind and thoughtful themselves!

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

oh jo(e) this made me so sad! How bittersweet!

my nephew has been in eugene for summer semester and my neice was travelling in europe for 8 weeks, but they'll both be in town for almost the whole month of sept (u of o classes start quite late) and i am so looking forward to their energy and perspective. It's just for a month, though -- then quiet again.

Leslee said...

That almost makes me want to cry. I agree with Jennifer, it's so bittersweet, perhaps just a tinge more bitter then sweet.

Enjoy the last few days of frisbie!

Arbitrista (formerly Publius) said...

He sounds like a great kid, and the perfect athelete - loves the game, not the competition.

Marie said...

I want to meet BiB almost as much as I want to meet you! I love how you describe your kids and I love this post. Even I, completely athletically challenged, played UF in high school. With my MATH club buddies. (Stop laughing, stop right now!) No, I still can't do long division, but those people were my friends. And I'm still trying to be in denial about school, but I can feel the stress building. *Sigh*

Miranda said...

I can't think of any other time that brings in such sharp relief the passing of time in our lives and the lives of our children. On one hand, it is so exciting to watch our children's growth into mature people, but it is also sad because their younger selves are no longer as well.

My little one starts kindergarten next week. While I am happy for him since he is more than ready for the experience, I am sad because for the first time since 1993, I won't have a small child at home.

This is all exacerbated by the fact that I am moving onto the next leg of my educational journey.

I just love sharing in your family's story through your blog, Jo(e).

Silver Creek Mom said...

Boy In Black sounds like such a wonderful soul. I love reading about him. He is a leader in the truest sense of the word. Caring, Loving, thoughtful and modest. You have raised a gem there.

Congratulations. I'm sure it will be quieter but the moments you spend when they are back home will be all that much more special!

liz said...

Can you get a picture of the last catch of the summer?

jo(e) said...

Liz: I tried once to take photos, but the game moves too fast. And it's more fun to play than stand around and take photos.

Jenevieve said...

The lure of UF is too strong, even for us non-athletes. I was on an intramural team 3 out of my 4 years in college.

If SBWD wakes it to Scotland during her time in London, I would love to show her around!