Sitting in an overstuffed chair in the corner of my bedroom, I can hear the laughter of children just beyond the outer wall of my backyard. You can hear them yelling, laughing, and once in a while, crying. An occasional yell from an adult keeps them in line—protecting them from each other and themselves.

I put down my book and step to the window. I use a finger to pull down one of the blinds and peek through toward the noise. Through a fence, I can see them. Penned in. A cage constructed by adults to make other adults feel comfortable leaving their little bundles of joy for the day while they’re at work.

By nightfall, the noise will hush. Darkness will encompass the playground and win the battle against the security lights hovering on the corners of the building and grimacing to push through the evenings grasp.

Quiet. A solitary basketball has escaped and is laying not the shortened basketball court. Patiently waiting for the return of the children. Patiently waiting to return to motion and fulfill its destiny of being thrown, kicked, and sat on.

The parents dart inside the building, grabbing their bundles of joy, then darted back out to their cars. The battle of brakes and horns in the parking lot. Some give up and travel the 100 feet to the fast food restaurant—attempts to alleviate the ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma waiting for them at home.

The play area empty. The parking lot empty. The drive-thru empty.

Garage doors open. Parents pull carefully into their garages. SUVs and mini-vans disappear behind the humming sound of an over-sized door lowering back to the pavement. Securing its contents. The streets empty. No laughing. No running or playing. No calling to friends. No neighborly waves. Just random lights flipping on and glowing through windows, proving life exists inside.

Warmth. Running water. Electronics. Internet. Food. Beds. Belongings. No need to wander outside the four walls of the home. Its contents are self-sufficient.

The night wanes. Bedroom lights come to life, then doused to welcome sleep. Bodies rest. Recharging. The spell of dreams and darkness filling the body with another day’s worth of energy.

Energy used to return to the cage and find the cold basketball waiting on the rubber-coated court. From one cage to the other. The children to their fenced play area. The grownups to the adult version of the same.

I grab my book and return to my favorite overstuffed chair in the corner of the bedroom. I can hear the laughter of children just beyond the outer wall of my backyard.

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