I Can’t Come Outside And Play!!Secret Confessions of a Caregiver
Kickball in the streets? Hide and Go seek? A three on three basketball game? He’s cheating again? It’s two hand touch football and they are winning. The captains are choosing teams and everybody is racing to get him on the team. Double Dutch? It was, but now it’s Hop Scotch. Over the years, I’ve gotten good at hearing through my bedroom window the sounds of the kids in my neighborhood playing outside. It’s as if my ear has been perfectly tuned to distinguish the noises and voices through the screen that blow in like the summer wind in my bedroom window. I have become so good at it, that I almost wish it was a paid profession or at least a competition that I could enter into, to test the skills that I have developed.
As I get older, what I could hear has now become what I can actually see. I have grown enough to see on tippy toes now, the outside world through my window. It’s quite amazing how your mind automatically paints visual pictures of people and things you have never seen but have only heard. By the sound of it, it can only look like this. That person can only be shaped like this, but now I can see over the window seal and I am totally wrong. It’s like asking a blind person to draw a picture of you strictly based upon how you sound. It’s a whole different world. A few years go by and it finally happens, somebody looks up
at me through the screen in my window and waves. It’s my friend Moe. I never met him but I’ve known his voice long enough that I assume in make believe that we are homeboys already. I know
his name and everybody else’s because I have heard all of them from the window. I watch him walk away from the group of boys standing in a circle on the sidewalk. They are all standing just beyond the end of our fence. With the courage and confidence of a Fed-Ex man, he walks toward our front door and I am shaking in fear. I can hear a light tap grow into a loud knock. Who is it? It’s Moe the voice says. What do you want Moe? Can your little boy come outside and play? You should feel my heart racing. No, he cannot come to play today. I see Moe walk away as the screen door closes slowly behind him. He rejoins the fellas and they disappear down the neighborhood sidewalk. As soon as the door closes, Momma shouts, Come and take this plate upstairs to Nita’s room and feed her. I am furious. I want to go outside and play but I can’t. I have a sick loved one that needs my care and attention. I watch a lot of tv, so I interview myself and ask, Well sir, How do you feel about? You don’t even want to know. My thoughts taste inwardly like anger, bitterness, and resentment, but outwardly they might be seen as selfish, reckless, and uncaring. From the window, I have watched everything from the kid’s play, them walk back and forth to the candy store, Mike and Nikki’s first shot at love and their first kiss, the Johnson family fight, Tina’s prom dress and date arrival, and even Beverly’s open house prior to leaving for college. How do I feel? Well, which answer do you want? There is the humble made for TV, magazine, and newspaper response, and then there is the deep seated, dark, brutally honest response that tours the very depths of this funky human experience. I’m really not sure which one you want? I tell you what. To ensure that everybody walks away ok, let’s just keep it at, “I can’t come outside and play!” Rick, my momma calls. Here I come! I gotta go.
Caregiving is not always easy. I wish we would be more sensitive to those who give care as much as those who receive it.