Ryan Trares: Course of action

“I’m bored.”

Anthony and I were sitting out in the backyard, enjoying the increasingly common warm spring weather. I was basking in the sunshine while Anthony kicked his soccer ball back and forth.

Usually, that will keep him busy. Still, after a few shots, he listlessly tapped the ball and made his big declaration.

“I don’t know what to do,” he said with exasperation.

I looked around. There were toys and games a-plenty; boredom shouldn’t have been an option. But I remember how that can be when you’re a kid, so I started thinking.

An idea popped in my head.

“What if I set up some cones, and you can practice dribbling?” I suggested, knowing that we’re getting close to soccer season.

Anthony seemed to like the idea. So off to the garage we went. After some digging, working around boxes of Christmas decorations, folded up lounge chairs, stowed away luggage, bicycles, gardening supplies and more bric-a-brac, we found the bright orange cones we had used long ago during his construction-themed birthday party.

Out in the backyard, I set them up in a line, providing enough room between each for Anthony to dribble. And for a few rounds, he did just that, carefully controlling the ball with both his feet before taking a shot.

But then imagination took over. Anthony decided he wanted to add more to his obstacle course, rummaging around in our storage area for more equipment to use.

First, he laid a pair of pool noodles out length-wise; after the cones, he’d have to skip the ball over each one. Next, he set a bucket upside-down — to continue on, he’d need to kick the ball into the bucket, knocking it over.

Anthony went through each step, thumping the bucket with a flourish to finish the course. He was so happy with himself that he wanted more; the course had to be bigger.

Back to the toy storage he went. Soon, there was a toy lawnmower laid out, then a wooden handle on a tree, then a rake and a t-ball tee. After kicking the bucket, he had to push the mower to our maple tree, pull the handle, pick up the rake and use it to knock over the tee.

Two jumps over some buckets, then the final challenge: knocking over a big stick with a smaller stick.

Anthony was so proud of his makeshift obstacle course, using nothing more than the stuff lying around the yard. When his mom got home, he showed her all over.

In a world where screen time is the norm — for kids and adults — sometimes it’s hard to remember the power of imagination. Things were different when I was a kid (the universal lament of a parent.)

But for one afternoon, whimsy won. Chalk one up for imagination.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].