Stories From A Playground Today

17 Jan

I held you up there in the tree, your little hands grasping so strongly to my shoulders. The fear in your eyes and voice told me that I could never let you go or all the trust we’d built in the last year or so would be shattered. So I did all I could to hold you there. I sat you in your new favorite place until you felt safe and could grab tightly to the fence by the tree. When others came to claim your spot, I moved you for a moment so you wouldn’t get stepped on but then put you right back there. When another kid tried to permanently sit where we had decided to place you, I had you wait. Because sometimes in life we have to wait to claim our sweet spot.

I pushed you on a swing. It was never high enough for you. You wanted to fly. I was worried you’d get scared but I kept pushing you. I think you knew I’d never let you fly out of the chair.  You didn’t get enough of the swing. Even though you were tightly locked in and had your own procedures for how swinging ought to be, when you let go and let me push you, you had the most fun. You could have stayed all day.

I buried you in sand, careful not to get any in your mouth or eyes. When other kids came to disrupt us, I shooed them away and told them they couldn’t throw sticks at you, especially when you were buried. Under that sand, it was heavy and cool. Somehow you didn’t mind all of those grains finding their way between the layers of your clothes and deep into your shoes. The sand was a safety blanket from the world even though it felt heavy at the time. You stayed put until I could take a picture to remind you someday of what it was like for me to bury you. Then we dusted you off and you were free again to play.

You decided you wanted to play with the group of girls you’d never met. I suggested we find out their names and ask them if you could play with one of their Barbies. You agreed and were cheerful, telling them your name and asking them each what their name was. I was proud of you when another girl you did know came up and wanted to join you and you immediately offered her the doll that you had just been given. You shared. It was natural for you. The other girls were a little aghast. Maybe they weren’t used to sharing but they got used to it when you modeled it for them at the tender age of four. I suggested we all play together and thought to myself how amazing it was that a Korean American  girl, a Latina American girl, an African American girl, and a Caucasian American girl could all play together at once on Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. I think MLK would be proud. He might even smile to see that all of the Barbies were different colors too.

-Thanks to Sophia, Caleb, Noah, Chloe, and the other kids for all that you teach me whenever I get the chance to learn from you.


One Response to “Stories From A Playground Today”

  1. Jill K January 18, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Mills, this is beautiful. I love this. Oh, this is just beautiful.

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