“Now… how am I gonna do this?” You wondered as Harima trotted over and smiled at Aya.
Aya just looked away and stared at the ground so you took the ball from Harima and started bouncing it off your wrists and keeping your arms under it as much as possible.
Because there was movement, that caught Aya’s eye and she looked to see what you were doing.
“Count for me, Harima,” you said to the bright 3 year old.
“1,” she counted as the ball hit your wrist, “2, 3, 4, 5, 6, sewen…”
You deliberately let the ball go off kilter and let it fall off your arms as you pretended to try and catch it to stop it falling on the ground- but failing.
“Ahhh, drats,” you clicked your fingers playfully, “how many did I do, Harima?”
“Sewen!” she announced happily.
“Do you think I can do more next time?” you asked as you picked up the ball.
“Yes! You can do to twenteen!” she announced.
“Twenteen?? Is that… twenty?”
“Mmhmm!” Harima nodded enthusiastically.
“What about you Aya? Do you think I can do more than seven?”
“Do 10,” she challenged, pulling out the highest number that she could remember.
“Alrighty, here we go, you have to count though otherwise it won’t work,” you warned, “I can do more if you power me up with counting.”
By then the boys had stopped what they were doing and watched as you started to bounce the ball on your wrists with the two girls counting and by the time they got to 2, Rin was under your feet screaming ‘Vowebaw! Vowebaw!”
“Yep!” you said to him, keeping one eye on him as you tried not to step on him while moving around a bit, “count for me, Rin!
“Four!” he shouted as the others got to seven then kept going.
“Good job! Good job!” Harima chanted, clapping her hands excitedly.
Even Aya seemed a lot more engaged and even Miru was watching intently from the flowers.
As soon as Aya counted to 10 you fumbled the ball and let it fall to the ground but pretended that you hadn’t meant to do that.
“Well, you must have super powers, Aya,” you said to her as Rin grabbed the ball from the ground and picked it up then tried to copy what you were doing, “you got me to 10!”
She looked at you with wonder and then mouthed a ‘wow’ as you turned your attention to everyone.
“Ok!” you called, “let me show you how I did that, all come and line up on the verandah!”
You managed to get them all standing in a line with the ends of their shoes just over the edge, then did a round of Y/N says, just like what you did with the first group, then showed them how to do squishy wrists.
Yoshi was very zealous with his squishy wrists and even got into a squat position as well just like what he had seen his favourite player on the blue flames team do.
Miru needed a little help, and you found the best way for him to keep his wrists together was to place a dandelion flower in between them so he would hold the position.
It worked like a charm.
After doing that, the kids all sat down for morning tea and you let them eat their food and have a drink of water before Mr Totoru walked out to see how everything was going.
“This group is a little older than the last,” you said to him, “it makes it a lot easier too…”
“I can see,” he said with a smile, “since everyone is a little more settled, I’ll wheel Mrs Totoru out… if that’s ok?”
“Yes! Please bring her out, we’ll practice throwing the ball over the net after the kids have had their food,” you said.
He nodded and disappeared off to get her while you set the volleyball net a little lower.
“What doing? What doing? Me help?” Rin asked as he ran over with his juice popper in hand.
“It’s ok, Rin, I’ve got it, but thank you, we’ll be practicing throwing balls soon, so finish your drink then we can start.”
He nodded excitedly then ran back to the other kids and jumped up onto the verandah, “frowing baws! (Throwing balls)” he announced to quiet Miru, who just looked at him then looked back down to his apple and took another timid bite.
Once they had finished up you called them all over to the nets and saw Mr Totoru, in the background, wheel Mrs Totoru out in the wheelchair and set up on the verandah to watch.
“Ok,” you announced, “everyone gets a ball.”
You handed out the balls quickly, then stood back.
“Now, when I say go, you need to throw the balls over the net. Don’t let it touch the net, ok? The net is lava.”
Rin gasped with astonishment and Yoshi’a jaw fell open with surprise.
“Is it really lava?” Aya asked sassily, “it’s not lava.”
“It’s pretend, but the volleyball monster will get you if you touch the net so beware,” you warned in a scary voice.
All the kids took your warning to heart and clutched their balls closer to their chest as you readied them for the throw.
“Ok, 1… 2… 3… throw!”
All the balls went flying over the net except Miru’s- that went straight into the square thatched string and Rin screamed loudly.
“Monster!!” he hollered and turned and ran in the opposite direction.
This set all the others off and poor Miru burst into tears.
“Hey! Hey, hey, hey, it’s ok Miru, the monster only eats loud kids who run away,” you said, quickly crouching down in front of him so you could talk to him and calm him down.
“Is it gonna eat me?” he asked through sobs while he wiped his eyes.
“Nooooo, no, it won’t eat you, but it might get Rin because…” You looked up to where Rin was still screaming and running in circles like a mad thing, and you chuckled, “because Rin is being so loud.”
Miru turned his head over his shoulder to see and stopped sobbing when Rin ran straight into the side of the house and fell over.
“I’m ok!” Rin called from where he was lying on the ground.
A small elderly chuckle wafted over from the verandah and you looked to see both Mr Totoru and Mrs Totoru smiling and chuckling with amusement.
“Well, if nothing else I’ve made their mornings,” you thought as you finally convinced the kids to line back up and try again.