I live near an elementary school and sometimes I go for my walk and run when the kids are going to school or leaving to come home. The other day I caught the going home wave of kids in backpacks, excited conversations, and endless moms in SUV’s waiting in a long line to pick up their children.
As I walked by the wave of kids I realized that I needed to change directions and take a different street, there was just too much foot traffic and automobile traffic. So I wandered off in a different direction.
And as happens so often these days I engaged in remembering my own before school and after school routines. There were always plans usually made during lunch or recess. Most often the plans were made with the kids who lived in my neighborhood. As I walked along and remembered some of those times and the faces of those neighborhood children flashed through my minds eye. The faces were bright with hope and expectation. Rosy cheeks and dancing eyes filled my memory and I marveled at what we did after school with no television and no video games and no cellphones. The memories brought a smile to my face. As I was relishing the images of snow forts and impromptu baseball games with an endless variety of materials used for bases, usually only three or four fielders and no catcher. As I remembered the huge variety of games of tag and hide and seek we played I was suddenly a 10 year old boy again without a care in the world. I might have even skipped a bit. I came out of my remembering startled to see a boy walking aimlessly in what appeared to be his front yard.
I can only describe him as sad. His head was down, his demeanor downcast. He scuffed the ground with the toe of his sneakers. The weather was warm so he wore a red t-shirt and shorts. He idly ran his hand up and down the trunk of an ornamental tree. He looked intently into the shrubbery and then, by the movement of his shoulders, heaved an incredible sigh.
I wanted to stop and have him go inside and get a ball so we could have a catch. I wanted to give him a hug. (You don’t do that in the neighborhood that I live in because all of the homes have fences, and garages that open electronically, so you don’t have to have any human interaction with the people who live next door.) So when he turned and saw me walking past his house I waved. He waved back and a hint of smile crossed his lips. And I walked on.
Write a story about after school, what you remember you did, what games did you play, with whom did you play. Let those memories give birth to stories about the people who made them.