It was an impulse buy from a restaurant toy machine Saturday - 25 cents for a bouncy ball. You know the kind that we all had as children - they are still around, although they have much more elaborate designs and colors now.
Little did I know this 25 cents would bring the biggest, cackling laughs and smiles our 3-year-old has had for any toy in weeks.
She learned how to bounce it high, then got amazed when her father bounced it off the driveway and it soared high into the sky. We even threw it off the roof and managed to avoid the gutters.
And the one time when she lost it in her path of vision and then it ended up bopping her on top of the head there were giggles all around.
I'll have to say my headline here is a bit deceiving because the fun does stop occasionally, especially when the ball lands in a bush. The good news is the ball's elaborate array of colors makes it easy to spot in the bush, then it's back to more fun.
We never would have guessed she'd have more fun with this ball than with her dozens of toys that tend to get played with for about a few minutes at a time. As I've wrote before in this column, sometimes the kids are drawn to items you would least expect. As a 1 to 2-year-old she liked cooking utensils more than the traditional toys most of the time, which meant a pan would often become one very loud-sounding drum. Measuring cups are also more fun than one might imagine and they can be like six toys in one.
This ball had two different outings of fun on our driveway over the weekend and daddy got a good workout chasing it when it went toward, and onto, the road. I even bounced it up real high and caught it in the pocket of the shorts. I'm telling you I could do no wrong as a father with this bouncy ball. We even had to take the ball over to the neighbor's house to show them just how fun it was.
There is one drawback to this whole experience, as reported by my wife Monday. Apparently, our little girl is now testing out everything small and round in the house to see if it can bounce like her ball. I was told the grapes did not have much bounce to them after one of these tests.
So there you have it. Food and gas prices continue to climb, along with the price of about everything else. It can be enough to get downright depressing at times. But if you have 25 cents, sometimes that's all that matters.
I know I can spare a quarter for a few pint-sized chuckles.
Reporter Andrew Potter is a Tuesday columnist for the Times-Republican. The views expressed in this column are personal views of the writer and don't necessarily reflect the views of the T-R. Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org