Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Playground GPS

I observed my children playing on the school playground the other day. It was their first day of school, and the first time that my son was part of the big kid crowd. My eyes scanned the the seemingly vast expanse of this preschool microcosm. If I could spot them, somehow I would feel grounded knowing that they were existing apart from me. That they were functioning, tiny little representations of adults cutting their own path with self-reliance. It took some time, but I finally spotted both my son and daughter. They had found each other. Somehow, within the seething mass of children, siblings laid eyes on each other and shouted cheerful greetings.

All might have been well, save for the fact that my son spotted me as well. I was keeping a low profile while cooping in another part of the school yard, yet that same internal GPS that helped him locate his sister brought him to me.

He tried to climb the fence, and when he realized I was not there to spend time with him sad, fat tears rolled down his ruddy cheeks. I held his hand and walked him back to his teacher, explaining that I was helping the tiny ones. He said he understood, but the tears continued to stream down his face. He didn't scream. He didn't make any noise. He just nodded his agreement, a saline river betraying his acquiescence.

By the time I made it back to my station, his teacher had him turned facing the other direction. In that critical moment, his sister found him. Somehow, her playground activities had brought her full circle to where he was standing. She stopped in front of him. Touched his face. Hugged him. Kissed his cheek.

Backdrops change as we get older. Playgrounds become hallways. Cocktail parties. Cubicles. We wrap ourselves up in our work and our errands. We forget that we are part of something greater than our own personal space. Sometimes it feels a miracle for anyone to seek us out, homing in on our location. To check on us. To pat our cheek and let us know that we are seen. That things really are going to be okay.

5 comments:

A Free Man said...

Beautiful, NATUI. Beautiful and sad. I'm writing a similar post for today. I think I've discovered that a lot of parenting is just a string of tiny heartbreaks.

Joe said...

How sad. I don't want Tyler to grow up. Ever.

Patois said...

"He just nodded his agreement, a saline river betraying his acquiescence."

You have so beautifully described that act. Your whole description of the scene is fabulous. That line screamed to me.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Oh. My. Gawd.

Tears are rolling down my face at the beauty of your words. You have a gift, with one hand on your heart, and the other hand writing.

Absolutely lovely - just like your children.

Blues said...

Wow. I'm saving this one.