Play with Your Parents · 6 March 2010

My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, has told me many times that I should go play with my kids while they still want me to do so. I usually hear this when I am thoroughly engaged in some inconsequential activity and I am ignoring my children’s pleas to go do something with them. She says things like, “They will not always want to play with you,” or “Remember that song,” which of course is, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. Naturally, I go play with the kids. Recently, I turned my wife’s admonition on one of my kids so he would go play with me.

It was a beautiful day and I wanted to go shoot some baskets. I did not want to go by myself so I invited the kids. Thing 1 was taking a nap or otherwise engrossed in teenage endeavors. Thing 3 was skating with the neighbors. Thing 2 was sitting inside reading on that beautiful sunny day. I asked at least twice to make sure that he actually heard me. He grunted some reply which told me that he was completely engaged with his book. So as I laced up my shoes and otherwise got ready, I said to him, “You should go play with your dad while he is still young enough to play with you and while he still wants to play with you.” Thing 2 and his brothers have all heard The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi say those exact word to me, albeit with the roles reversed, which is why I believe he decided to lay down his book and come shoot with me.

We had a great time playing basketball. Actually, we just played horse. Rather, we were going to play horse, but Thing 2 thought that was too short. Then, he thought that we ought to play horsefly like we had a few days before, but that was too short too. So we ended up playing “Polka dotted green-eyed monster” or some such modification of the game. In the end, it was great fun just shooting around and trying to keep track just where in the word we were. After all, knowing the single letter in horse is much easier than figuring out that we might be “Polk” or “Polka dot” or even “Polka dotted gree” whatever a gree is. We had a great time.

In the end, we both won. Not in the sense that everybody who plays wins, but nobody ever really became the “Outrageous orange alpaca” or “Purple faceless pie eating camel” or whatever we were playing. I kept giving Thing 2 lots of chances to prove his last shot when he did not want me to prove it. So even though nobody became the “Ugly polka dotted green-eyed horse eating monster,” we had a great time.

Whether my wife urges me to play with the kids or I urge them to play with me, we always have a great time. I am always thankful that The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi has enough perspective on life to help me choose the important things. And I am glad that she knows the song too.

My kids are really too young to know about the Cats in the Cradle song, but I hope that when they do hear it, they do not think of me. I hope that they remember saying to me, “Come on let’s play,” and hearing me reply, “Let’s go.” I hope they even remember me asking them to come out and play. Even if the request has a little twist about coming out while I am still young enough to play.

© 2010 Michael T. Miyoshi

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