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Sam loved to play fetch. I’d lob a ball gently across the yard with a yell of “fetch the ball, Sam”. He’d zip after it, bring it back to where I was standing, drop it at my feet, and wait for another toss. We’d been playing this game since shortly after he was able to walk and carry something at the same time.
One spring afternoon, Sam’s Dad showed up at our family child care to pick up his boys just as I tossed the ball to the far side of the yard. Sam sped off as fast as his 20 month old legs would carry him. Floyd and I started into some Guy Talk about lawns, and lawn mowers, and mowing lawns, and putting off mowing lawns. Sam dropped the ball at my feet and looked up at me expectantly. I whipped the ball across the yard and he took off after it. “Playing Fetch?” Floyd asked.
“Yep, ” I replied, “he’s better at fetch than any dog I’ve ever known. He always brings the ball back, never gets tired of playing, and rarely gets distracted by rabbits.”
“Yeah, he’s a good boy.”
Sam returns with the ball. His Dad throws it this time, aiming at his four-year-old son perched in the apple tree.
At some point, Floyd asks Sam if he can, “go get the ball like a puppy.” Sam rambles off after the ball on all fours. I ask if he can carry it back in his mouth–he can’t. Dad asks if he could push it back with his nose–he tries. We play fetch with Sam and talk lawns for another 30 minutes before Floyd extracts Jack from the apple tree and they head for home.
Fast forward to the next morning.
April smiles as she drops the boys off, “I’ve got a question for you.”
“Cool, ask away!”
“The boys love you, I love that they get to spend time with you, but do you have to play fetch with Sam? Couldn’t you call it something else? He’s not a dog.”
“He’s better than a dog! How about we call the game Go Get It?”
Sam hands me a ball.
“Go Get It, Sam!”
“Thanks, Jeff,” April smiles as she walks out the door.