The days are piling up on one another. Their beginning, middle and end feel strikingly familiar. One bleeds into the next. I’ve heard others describe it as Groundhog Day. At some point during this endless string of days, it became clear to me that I had to do something to get my boys out of the house. We limit even their ability to go with us to stores to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID. As a consequence, they spent the greater portion of their days either playing video games or watching YouTube videos of people playing video games.
One problem with any kind of outdoor activity at this time of year, going to the neighborhood pool in carefully planned trips booked in advance excepted, is the heat. My sons seem especially ill-adapted to the hot North Carolina summers and days of isolation in a climate controlled house probably aren’t helping any. Getting them to partake of exercise is a challenge. My youngest kind of runs back and forth, as some YouTuber excitedly narrates their Minecraft run in the background, but my oldest has perfected the teenage sedentary life. He slouches at his desk, playing games or chatting with his friends via an iMac that I vowed would never end up in his room until the need to work from home forced me to remove it from my office.
An idea finally came to me that I could take the boys to play disc golf. My older one was excited, but it was a bit harder to stoke the enthusiasm of the younger one. He had never played before and had no conception of what the activity consisted of but understood that it would be out in the elements and wouldn’t involved pushing pixelated characters around a screen.
We could have gone to a local course, but I insisted on driving an extra 15 minutes to the course in the capital city that I used to play every night, in the summer, the year I went through chemo. I have an emotional connection to the Kentwood Park course, and I don’t think any others will ever replace it as my default, no matter how many spring up closer to my house. My decision to make the drive was a good one, as my oldest was happy to be in the car, going somewhere, and the drive seemed to elevate his mood.
Despite the already high temperature in the later morning, the course was packed. We practiced putting while waiting patiently to line up on the first tee box. My youngest seemed to think he would either be an ace the first few times he threw the disc, or that he wasn’t meant to play at all. You can guess which way that turned out. Though he gamely trudged along, playing from where the disc landed, no matter how close to his original position, he missed few opportunities to complain. His throws didn’t always go where he wanted them to, the basket was too far away, the heat was unbearable. We ended after nine holes.
After all the complaints,1 as we drove home my oldest talked about how fun it was. The youngest had to grudgingly agree that it was kind of enjoyable. A disc is no substitute for a gaming controller, but kids need the outdoors, and I plan to make this more of a regular thing to keep them active.2