Jul 28, 2010
“Go ahead, share with her, pumpkin,” I told my son as he held his ball while staring at the little girl approaching him, eyeing the ball. He threw it to her and so began a game of catch between them. When she left, another tiny tot barely able to walk came along for his turn of tossing the ball back and forth. As they played, two other kiddos watched, ogling the ball.
What is it about a ball that seems to connect children, and by extension, their respective parents? I’ve seen these spheres of magic lead to parental introductions at playgrounds and parks, and they seem to bring together entire countries as witnessed during the recent World Cup matches. These roundies also seem to serve as peace offerings and aid in reconstruction efforts, through organisations like Operation Soccer Ball and Kick for Nick.
Could the explanation be found in the fact that the sphere and its cousin the circle are considered symbols of unity? Are there sphere conspirators working behind the scenes to assist in our bonding efforts? Are all the balls at Toys R Us and Lillywhites singing a chorus of “come together right now over me” when the doors close and the lights go down?
My own brother’s ball games – baseball, football, and basketball – brought our family together, with a slew of relatives coming to the games to cheer him on. So maybe there was food to entice our attendance – one aunt infamously brought a bag of goodies to each game – and he may have had an attractive teammate or two, but I’m convinced it was the inner-workings of the balls themselves that made us all want to support him.
My husband’s, son’s and my “ball time” not only gave us family fusing time, but made all of us laugh. In his room, my son would empty his basket of about twenty balls ranging in size from gumball machine balls to a beach ball. While I stayed in his room with him to help him pick up the balls and throw them at my husband who stood just outside the doorway, my son would be giggling so much he could barely throw. Meanwhile, my chuckling ball and chain (get it?) wished he had full-body armour, wondering how he ended up on the receiving end of two future dodge ball champions.
And let us not forget balls’ cousins, bubbles? Not until I became a mama did I realise the enchantment of these air in liquid globules. I’ve seen a two-month-old smile for the first time after setting her eyes on a cluster of bubbles, a six-month-old crawl his inaugural crawl to catch a bubble, and an 18-month-old hyperventilate after catching a glimpse of bubbles. Even a fellow mom friend of mine goes stir crazy for bubbles – both the fly-in-the-air spheres and the variety from a certain region in France. I was once blowing bubbles for our precious offspring, and when the munchkins became preoccupied with the next best thing, my friend asked me to keep blowing bubbles because she loved being surrounded by them. Okey dokey, bubble fetish pal, by all means I’ll keep blowing mini globes of happiness.
Just as disco balls unite Tony Manero wannabes, and circle time unites singing tykes, my own hula hoop endeavours once united neighbours and an ice cream man. I had a fuchsia hula hoop when I was a child, and I twirled that thing around my waist, neck, wrists and ankles for hours. I’d invite the neighbours to watch the spectacular hula hoopaganza, and they’d clap with utter amazement at the end of each act. Sometimes the ice cream man would drive by during the performance and give me a standing ovation, and on one occasion, a free strawberry shortcake ice cream.
Ladies and gentlemen of the world, I’m convinced it’s no coincidence that Cheerios, donuts, bagels, pizzas, pies and cookies are round. My college roommates and I bonded over pizzas and cookies countless times. And while I’ve never tasted square donuts or rectangular bagels, I already know that – beyond taste – something would feel disjointed.
Whether a spheres’ and circles’ ability to bring human beings together is something to do with the Sun, Moon, planets or ticking clocks, I don’t know. And while I’m aware that food, technology and tragedy have their own ways of unifying folks, balls and bubbles seem to have their own ways of connecting the little darlings. So parents, let’s play ball!