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.