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The Play Date

“ I trust my practitioner but how am I suppose to choose to be happy when my whole world has been taken away from me?” Clara mumbled to herself as she wandered over to her livingroom window and stared out at the neighborhood.
She stood at the window and observed her next door neighborhood, Mrs. Prince and her young five year old daughter, Anna. Mrs. Prince had recently been divorced and was angry at the world. She couldn’t hear their conversation, but she noticed how the five year old’s shoulders slumped and her face lose its smile as her mother spoke to her, shaking her finger in the little girl’s face. She watched as Mrs. Prince started toward her car, but stopped to answer her cellphone. She observed Anna walk away and take a seat on the front porch steps, her eyes filled with tears. Clara’s heart went out to the little girl who was so sad at her parents’ predicament.
As she watched Mrs. Prince talk on her phone, something prompted her to go outside. Of late, she seldom went outside unless she was going out to run an errand. She stood on her porch; she didn’t want Mrs. Prince to think that she was trying to eavesdrop on her conversation.
“Hi Miss Clara,” Anna called out to her.
“Hello, dear,” she replied returning the child’s greeting.
“You have got to be kidding me!” Mrs. Prince said angrily into her phone. “I can’t get another babysitter on such short notice! I need to go on this final interview for this job!”
“Is there something I can help you with?”, Clara heard herself say to her neighbor, surprising herself.
“I have a job interview and my babysitter just cancelled on me! I really need to get this job!” Mrs. Prince replied in frustrated anger.
“I can watch Anna for a few hours for you,” Clara said to her neighbor. She couldn’t believe that she had just volunteered to babysit her neighbor’s daughter.
“Oh, would you please? It would be a lifesaver!” Mrs. Prince replied with obvious relief.
“I would be happy to help,” Clara replied. She believed in helping others, but she hadn’t volunteered to even help at church in several months.
She waited as Mrs. Prince and Anna went inside to get Anna’s backpack. Clara wondered if she had lost her own mind. She hadn’t been around any children since her own daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren had moved three thousand miles away. They were her only family and she sorely missed her grandchildren; hey had been the joy of her life. With Anna by her side, they watched as Mrs. Prince drove away.
“Looks like it’s you and me Anna. What would you like to do?” Clara inquired of the little girl.
“Can we go to the park?”, Anna asked softly.
“ Why not. We can go to the park near the petting zoo. My grandchildren loved the petting zoo. Would you like that?”
“Okay!” Anna answered, a happy smile on her face.
“Let me get my purse and my keys and we’ll go,” Clara told her.
Clara felt a happiness that she hadn’t felt in a long time as she drove toward their destination. She prompted Anna to help her sing ‘row ,row, row your boat’ as they headed for their destination. Fro the rest of the ride they happily sang the silly little song. Clara loved the light of joy on the little girl’s face as they sang. She had forgotten how a simple thing like singing a silly song could make you feel so happy. At the zoo, Anna enjoyed being able to pet the animals. Clara enjoyed watching the child giggle and laugh as she petted the animals.
From the zoo they went over to the park. Together, they swung on the swings and watched with joy as Anna demonstrated her dexterity on the jungle gym. Anna challenged her to walk on the kids’ balance beam. They enjoyed hot dogs, lemonade and ice cream cones for their lunch. Their next stop was the children’s museum where the displays were interactive. She loved when Anna asked her questions, some serious, and others silly ones that made them both laugh.
It had been a wonderful day. Clara hated to see the day come to an end. It had been a very longtime since she had played and laughed with the abandon of a child. She remembered what her practitioner had told her about having choices. She realized that she had chosen to withdraw from life because her family had moved away for a better future for themselves. It had been her choice to be unhappy. Today, Anna had shown her that she could make a better choice. She could chose joy and happiness. She could choose love.
As she pulled into her driveway, she could see Mrs. Prince arriving home.
“I hope Anna wasn’t a problem,” Mrs. Prince said as they met up in front of Clara’s house.
“She was a joy and the solution to a problem. She reminded me how it felt to laugh and play. I would be delighted to spend time with her any time,” Clara told her joyfully.
“Thank you, but you may regret that! I got the job so I may be asking you to babysit often,” Mrs. Prince expressed with the first smile that Clara had seen on her face since her divorce.
“Like I said, any time,” Clara replied.
Later as Clara made a cup of tea, she decided that she would call her daughter and her family. She was making a choice to have love, joy and laughter in her life. She was looking forward to having more play dates in her life.

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