Summer Short 2
Life on the Playground

When my kids first entered school I noticed how little things had changed since I was in pigtails. The alphabet song was still going strong, the mixed bouquet of Elmer’s Glue and water-based paints still lingered in the air, kids still ate their sandwiches with the crust carefully cut off and sat in circles on the floor with their legs crossed, as we used to say, Indian Style. Being PC wasn’t really a thing then.

Of course, plenty had changed too. If you didn’t actually know your alphabet by 3 years old, you were tested for learning disabilities, art class had themes and history lessons attached, not one of those perfectly squared, crustless sandwiches was the old classic pb & j due to peanut allergies and kids sat criss cross applesauce, whatever that means. Also, kids were called, “James R.” and “Matthew B.”, never Jimmy or Matty and were told things like,”You get what you get and you don’t get upset” and were expected to not actually get upset. As if. This was not, as you might suspect, being bought at all.

Life is hard enough without being told not to feel what we feel and not to want what we want. When we are kids, we pretty much called bullshit on that whole concept. Get what you get and not get upset? Nah.

One hot early June day, when my son was about 5, he had some friends over for a play date. Here’s what I remember: I remember bringing out the Popsicle box to the backyard. I remember barely coming within 20 feet of the swing set they were playing on before I heard, “I want red! I want blue! I want blue too! I want blue now too!” Of course, looking in the box, there were only 2 blues. Of course. I remember carefully explaining to Harry that there were only 2 blues left and that his friends should get them since they were his guests. I remember how he learned in school that he was supposed to get what he gets and not get upset and held by breath. I remember the crying and the tantrum that ensued. I remember, “I WANT BLUEEEEEEE!” I remember the promises of more blue Popsicles in his future. A life full of blue Popsicles. As many as he could eat. I remember thinking why do they even put green in the box? Who likes green?

Later that night, when I was tucking him into bed, I asked him if he had a good day. Did he have fun with his friends? He said, “Yes, I had a great day Mommy. I had lots of fun but I still wish I had gotten a blue Popsicle.”

As I left the room, I replied, “I completely understand.”