Thursday, August 19, 2010

catch the finger

My dad's game of "catch the finger" goes international. (NO, not that finger!)

Doing my laps this morning, I paused to exchange greetings with a visiting toddler. The youngster in question--glad in a big hat and dark glasses to protect him from the summer Sarasota sun--was in his mother's arms. They are the daughter and grandson of one of my condo mates, who is French.

I'm not sure how much English either understood, but it's a moot point. Without thinking, I slipped into my usual behavior at these moments. I extended my index finger in front of the child's face. He reached to grab it--almost every child does--I folded my finger, foiling the attempt. He laughed and tried again, and again and again--as I repeated the action. A child a bit older would have started moving his hand closer and closer, until I couldn't pull the finger away.

Anyone with a child who knows me, knows the game. At first, I did it mindlessly. But after my Dad died, I started wondering how it got started. I'm sure it was "invented" in a moment of desperation, to amuse me and my brother. I honestly can't recall a time before I played it myself.

A second game involving only one's hands that he often used--as do I-- is "walking fingers", a self-explanatory game with the fingers walking toward the then onto a child, if he/she is willing.

I still miss my Dad. But at times like these I realize that he does live on in me--and in many children he's never met.