Monday. I find myself in the midst of a rough start that raises questions and casts shadows on the afternoon’s prospects. So, I retreat to the kindergarten room where I hope to find peace as the light dims elsewhere. Children are deep in their work so I sit down at one table to join a ring of five year-olds. What time is it? Playtime they say. Perfect, I reply. What a great way to start!
In front of each child is a pile of tiny plastic blocks. A child can attach one block to another and create shapes. I see right away that the only limits might be those residing in the imagination of the builder, but not in the blocks themselves. Given time and the inclination, a child might make a construct of any size and bestow it with any function he chooses.
I sit myself across from a boy who has set out to build airplanes. Waylon. Stern and task-oriented, Waylon trains his gray eyes on the plane he has just about finished. He affixes two more blocks and shifts his attention to what this shape can do. At the last instant, he adds seats to the back, and lets it lift off on a runway only he can see. His plane buzzes over table center and flies up for another round. His big pursed lips provide the buzzing and his wonder-opened eyes fill in the blanks.
The flying plane prompts a response from Adeline, next to Waylon, who then slaps together a wheeled job that she assures me is a truck. Why a truck? I’m going to pick up the people from the plane, she declares, and into the center of the circle goes a second buzzing thing.
Now with plane and truck in motion, petite Jacqueline fills in with an indispensible house – essential for all the people who fly on the plane. She pegs her house together with an arched front door and floor plan that includes a room appended to the back. Who is this room for? For kitty -the kitty that flew in on the plane. She reminds me that every plane must have a kitty on it and every kitty must have a room. Then Armando leans in, shoving together his small pile to make a hammer – a hammer to slam on the plane – He pats the hammer into the palm of his left hand to show both he and it are ready for duty.
Throughout, I sit next to curly-haired Evangeline who never once touches her pile of blocks. Instead, she watches along with me. We build nothing but ask all the questions. We prompt the stories that link our little ring together. I know that, given time, we both could find a way to add to what the others have started to create.
I am made whole through the watching. I ask the questions, listen for linkages, and learn how individual creation fits in to a larger plan. I hear confidence from each child – that he or she can find a place for himself within this ring and build something that fits in. A child can work himself toward connection, making homes for cats, low-buzzing planes, trucks for people, all brought together through the simple grace of a small circle, where each of us can find a way to make the day we choose.
I knew I came here for a reason. I knew I would not leave disappointed.