Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Taking Tree

My sons are not the most athletic or coordinated kids in the world, but then again, neither are their parents, so genetics are not particularly in their favor in this regard. But just because my kids may lack athletic skills doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy athletic activities—it just means they’re not very good at them. Indeed, just a couple of weeks ago my boys decided they wanted to go outside and throw around their new flying ring (a Frisbee with a hole in it) in front of the house.

My nine-year-old took a stance about 15 feet away from his seven-year-old brother and got himself into position. I’m no sports physicist, but I could see from the angle he was holding his arm that things were destined to go awry. I was about to stop him, because I sensed a broken window in our future, when he hurled the ring in the air with every ounce of strength he could muster. Up, up, it went—higher than I imagined his little body could have ever tossed it—and then down, down it came—right into the branches of our tree, about 20 feet above.

We all looked at the ring, pondering how we might retrieve it, when my older son said, “I know how to get it down” and went running into the garage. Moments later he appeared with a nerf football and before I could stop him he heaved it at the ring. Well…not exactly at the ring—more like five feet higher and to the right of the ring. 

I didn’t think my son’s arm was so strong that he could throw a football that high. I was impressed, but now we had two pieces of sports equipment stuck in our tree. Again we all stared and contemplated our next move.

I should mention here that climbing the tree was not an option. While the branches were strong enough to support sports equipment, they were definitely too thin to support the weight of a person. Also, as mentioned in my opening, none of us have actual athletic skill, so if any of us attempted to climb the tree, there is a 92.3% chance we would end up at urgent care.

As we looked futilely at our trapped equipment my younger son suddenly had a eureka moment. “I know,” he shouted and off he went into the garage. Moments later he came back with a small rubber ball and took aim at the tree.

“Wait!” I yelled, but it was too late. Skyward the ball went, completely bypassing the flying ring and the football, and landing comfortably, mockingly in the upper canopy of the tree. We all gazed at our sports-fruit bearing tree in awe for a moment. Suddenly, my boys both turned and were about to run into the garage to look for other objects they could hopelessly lose, when I shouted, “Everybody stop!” They stopped.

I confidently walked into our garage and found a baseball—a hardball too substantial to get stuck in a tree. I swaggered back out as my boys looked on. I took aim at the flying ring, secretly thinking to myself, “there ain’t no way I’m hitting this thing,” and uncorked a fastball straight up in the air. Miraculously I knocked the ring right out. The boys cheered.

I moved over slightly and took aim at the football, a little bit more confidence flowing through my veins. I let the ball fly again and struck the football dead center, dislodging it from its arboreal embrace. The boys cheered louder.

I walked to the other side of the tree and eyed the small rubber ball, barely visible in the upper branches of our towering mesquite tree. This time my confidence waned as the ball was a good 30 feet up and fairly well camouflaged. I took a deep breath, channeled my inner Clayton Kershaw, and unleashed a furious fastball high into the air. “WHACK!” The rubber ball came tumbling down with the baseball right behind it. We all cheered as though we just won game seven of the World Series. This moment represented the pinnacle of my athletic career. And more importantly we now had all of our sports equipment back!

Ten minutes later the flying ring ended up on the uppermost portion of our roof. It remains there to this day.