Do you ever wish you could be a child again, for just one day? To experience the sweet freedom of being a kid and having none of the heavy adult responsibilities for just a short while would be glorious, wouldn’t it?
I was sitting in my living room last night, eating my dinner, and listening to the kids in our new neighborhood play Spotlight. Flashlight beams were shining up into the trees, on people’s houses, and everywhere a child could be secretly hiding. “I caught you!” one kid shouted. Then the whole hiding thing started all over again, with a new “it”.
The joyous sounds of their playtime took me back twenty years or so to when my own children were young enough to enjoy Spotlight. On warm evenings, our son and daughter would dash outside after supper to join their friends, already breathlessly discussing their strategy for the game. Then, off they would go to join several other kids who were already jumping up and down with excitement. My husband and I would keep an eye on them all from our front porch, remembering the careless abandon of our own childhood. The game only ended as the last child (other than our two) would be called home.
Before they were old enough to play Spotlight, my children loved catching Lightning Bugs. Beginning in mid-June I would save a couple of large glass pickle jars with metal lids, rinsing them thoroughly. Doug would poke some holes in the lids with an ice pick so that the little captives could breathe. As soon as dark fell upon our neighborhood, we would grab the jars and head out into the yard to begin hunting. I remember telling the kids to stand perfectly still and watch for the sparkling to begin. I’m telling you, never have I seen children stand so still! It wouldn’t last very long though, as the night air would soon fill with little flashes of light. Our kids, and usually a few little friends, would scatter, dashing here and there with hands held out in front of their faces. Almost always, a bug or two would get squished by chubby little hands clasping a little too eagerly! The quest for Lightning Bugs would continue until little legs would tire out and sweet faces would be drenched with sweat. The friends would go home, and we would take our tired little babies inside for baths and PJs. The jars would go on the night tables where the kids could watch the blinking and glowing of the little bugs. Soon, eyelids drooping, they would lose their fight to stay awake and drift off to sleep.
Our baby granddaughter was visiting us earlier this evening, and to calm her fussiness I carried her outside. Swaying back and forth with her in my arms, we watched as the blinking gradually began. Before long, there were many little flickers all around us. It was magical. When little Ophelia is old enough my husband and I will be sure to make her a special Lightning Bug jar, and teach her one of the simple pleasures of childhood.