Little Children

My “office” — at least that’s what I call it when I need to make myself feel (slightly) important; it’s also the girleens’ art room and bike and trike storage, and general all-around junk room — is housed in the glassed-in sunporch of our house. Built in 1929, the house is an architectural style sometimes referred to as “stockbroker tudor,” a term I love, particularly when you put it in the context of when the house was built. (Poor stockbroker, if only you could have seen into your future!)

In any case, the location of my computer out on the sun porch (which is what I call the room when I don’t need to feel important) means that I get a great view of sky through the upper curve of window.

Yesterday that blue bowl of sky was completely undiluted by clouds. It felt almost like fall yesterday morning, but that turned out to be a tease: by noon, when I was on my hands and knees trying to help a class of preschoolers plant broccoli (no easy trick, let me tell you!) the weather had shown its true colors.

One of the lovely things about XXXX Preschool is its Outdoor Classroom, a space with raised beds for each class, a lovely swatch of grass, pear and crabapple trees, and picnic tables shaded by a grapevine-draped arbor. Spring and Fall Planting Days are a part of the “curriculum” and today, as member of the school’s outdoor classroom committee (it’s a cooperative, which basically means that we pay tuition money so that we can spend the time when our preschooler is in school with them at school) I spent a lovely fall day assisting six classes of preschoolers as they attempted to plant flats of lettuce and broccoli and kale, then dug up what had just been planted and “watered” themselves while the plants languished like accident victims in need of blood transfusions.

It was a nice motherhood moment, or maybe I should say, it was a nice motherhood moment in theory but it was also exhausting, especially since Younger Girleen had absolutely no interest in planting anything and spent most of the morning trudging around the space saying “I’m VERY hungry.” But one of the things I was most struck by was the realization that up until today (I’ve had kids at the preschool for five years, so that means 10 planting days) I actually thought the kids planted stuff on Fall Planting Day. I had no idea some poor parent who probably had not had time to drink their morning coffee had to spend their morning creating a gardening assembly line.

Oooofff! Hoodwinked! I (sometimes) think of myself as a fairly — cynical might not be the best word, let’s say savvy, instead —parent, hep to the sentimental traps of parenthood.

But we are all Little Children, to borrow the title of Tom Perrotta’s recent novel. It’s long been said that people have kids because it gives them a chance to be a child again… to play. The problem is, the way grown-ups approach “play” is actually sometimes kinda twisted. Not only that, a lot of times, what it mostly resembles is work.

A couple of days ago Elder Girleen switched on the radio and out poured Madonna’s “Lucky Star.”

Being too cool for school back in the day, I never really realized how propulsive and danceable “Lucky Star” actually is. Elder Girleen started dancing wildly, with such unconscious grace and instinctive rhythm — I knew I was blessed to see it.

Now that’s play.

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One thought on “Little Children

  1. I used to dance to Lucky Star while I was cleaning the house of a wealthy drug dealer and his young rich Nicaraguan bride; they had MTV and we didn’t have cable, and I loved dancing to that song.

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