“I Gray?”

play-dough-people-faces

Photo: picklebums.com

 

His maman is from Haiti. His “so called papa” is “no one you’d want to remember” (as per his maman and grand-maman) because he has “no color in his eyes or heart.”

The boy has soft waves of honey brown hair. Cupid lips. Deep brown eyes. Light caramel skin. Freckles on his nose.

He’s recently discovered the magic of combining colors. He finds it entrancing. He is especially moved by the alchemy of what happens when you add white.

“You have black?” he asks, pointing to the Play-doe containers on my shelf.

“No,” I note, “I ran out. But I have brown.”

“Let me see.”

I hand him a container and he pulls the lid off and inspects the contents. “It in the wrong place,” he states, pointing to the yellow lid.

“I know. I just used a container I already had. It didn’t come that way. We made the brown from mixing different colors.”

“Who make it?”

“One of the other kids I work with made it. You want to try and make brown, too?”

He frowns, considers, shakes his head. “But I want some.”

“You want to use some of it? Sure. Go ahead.”

He pinches a bit of the dough and rolls in pensively between his fingers. “You have white?”

“I do!” I give him the white-topped container. He peeks in. After the yellow-topped one holding brown, one never knows …

He pulls out a chunk and begins kneading the white piece into the brown. A moment passes, then another. He’s quiet. He’s got something on his mind.

“Brown people are called black,” he notes.

“Hmm…” I nod. I wonder if he’d say more.

He glances at the yellow lid and I wonder if he’s wondering if it is one more of those “in the wrong place” designations. He sighs.

“I black but I also white,” he raises his eyes to me. “That mean I gray?”

 

 

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“I pleased her!”

siblings2

 

The cacophony coming from the children’s room was deafening.

She walked in to two small teary faces. One red with indignation, one blotchy with enraged demand. A pile of blocks depicted fresh ruins. A toy car spun a morose wheel toward an apathetic ceiling.

The wails rose to crescendo, a duet for justice.

She knelt to wrap an arm around each sobbing set of shoulders. “Shhh….” she cooed, “What happened?”

“He …” the girl accused, an index finger poking emphasis at her brother. “He broke my castle.” Tears flowed.

“I didn’t!” he protested, matching tear to bawl. “She push me! It broked!”

“He put the car on my castle! Castles are for princesses!”

“But …” he cried, insisted, “but … I said please, Mommy! I pleased her first!”

 

 

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“My Eyes Forgot!”

clean-up-messy-room-Switchmonkey

 

The room looked as if a tornado had gone through it: Toys of every size and color dotted the floor, a scatter of crayons peaked from under the bookcase, bits of paper snow-flaked the rug, a shirt’s sleeve and a lonely sock used an open drawer for recliner.

“Rachel!” the mother’s arms climbed to her waist in indignation. She’d cleaned this room that very morning.

The little girl lifted her face from the doll in her hands. Her visage was the epitome of innocence.

“Look at this room!” her mom exasperated.

The girl rotated her head obediently but without conviction.

“The mess!” the mom repeated when the child said nothing.

“Oh,” the child shrugged. One ponytail holder bobbed deeper than the other–it was hanging by a hair. “My eyes forgot to see it.”

 

 

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“They did it!”

Goldfish

 

“It wasn’t me!”

The potbellied cookie-jar was stranded sideways on the kitchen floor amidst small mountains of spilled cookies in various states of broken. The jar’s lid wobbled under a chair a few feet away.

I looked at the small face, cherubic auburn curls surrounding dimpled cheeks. The forcefulness of the denial belied the crumbs around the lips, the sticky hands, the guilty blue-gray eyes.

“It wasn’t, eh?” I worked to keep my eyebrows in line.

The preschooler squirmed but didn’t fold. She shook her head emphatically, looked around, and tapped her lower lip with a (suspiciously chocolatey) finger.

An idea dawned into her face and she pointed said finger at the aquarium where three goldfish lazed. “They did it!”

My eyebrows escaped. “The fish?!”

A wholehearted nod. She was warming to the thought. “Yeah! They don’t like fish food every day every day anymore … and … and … it the fish birthday …” she swung her finger from one idle swimmer to the next. “Um, this one! See? He didn’t even want fish food for his birthday!”

 

(Thank you, A.J.!)

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Interconnected

phones Etsy

Photo: Etsy

 

“She has a symbiotic relationship with that phone,” the mother complained, eyebrows raised and head tipped in the direction of her daughter.

The pre-teen (on cue) rolled her eyes without lifting them from her opposing thumbs and the aforementioned item’s screen.

“See?!” the mom announced, vindicated.

“Whatever,” the girl sighed in the tone dedicated to oldsters who cannot possibly understand the nuances and necessities of modern life. She placed her phone face-down on the desk and turned her head to her mother. “Happy now?”

The mom nodded, half-mollified, half-mortified.

The lass-with-sass turned to me. “She keeps on me for that phone but she’s the one who’s always on the phone.”

“It’s work stuff,” the mother defended, reddening. Her own ‘lifeline’ already half-way out of her purse.

“Mine’s school stuff,” the girl countered. Her eyebrows rose in victory, a mirror image of her mother’s.

I smiled at their banter. It was a well-rehearsed dance, a sparring of connection more than true conflict.

“Funny thing …” I pulled out the work I had planned for our session that day: a passage and discussion about symbiosis, the close and often long-term interaction between two different species …

 

 

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Minimal

black-dot

 

“What is that?” I asked about the dot the four-year-old had just purposed onto the page.

We’d been talking about living and non-living things, sorting pictures and ideas.

He looked up at me. “It a minimal.” His tone stated this was obvious.

“A what?”

He raised a small eyebrow, slowed his speech to meet my apparently plummeting intellect. “A Mini-Mal. A very teeny teeny animal.”

 

 

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Biggest in his eyes!

Giraffe

“My daddy is more bigger,” he announced after examining a photo on my wall of my niece and her (rather tall) husband. His curls bounced in certitude and his tone spanned the space from pity to challenge.

“Is he?” I noted, winking at the boy’s mom.

I know the father. Objectively this little guy’s dad isn’t particularly tall, but this wasn’t about being objective … To his son, the father may as well be the giant of all giants.

“Yea,” the preschooler nodded emphatically. “My daddy is even more bigger than …” he scanned the room for inspiration, “… a whole Empire State Building house or even more bigger than …” he narrowed his eyes in concentration, opened them wide, “a giraffe!”

 

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Mini Picasso

 

“This is a big big big mountain and it have a train and it go ‘choo-CHOOOO!’ round and round and also flowers but you see them fast because it a train and rainbow and my name.” (J.N, age 3:4)

 

mini picasso

 

 

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Butterflies

butterflies-photographer unknown

 

She had butterflies in her tummy. Her heart was in her throat. Jitters like little worry critters jumbled through her thoughts. She felt apprehensive, anxious, wary, shaky. Her feet felt twitchy, her hands clammy. She was timorous and nervy.

Not quite frightened. Not quite sorry. Hyper with a smidge of happy and a sprinkling of uneasy.

She was both hungry and queasy. She kept fretting. She felt trembly.

Recital day in all its glory.

 

 

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How Will I Know?

girlchem

“How will I know?” the girl hung spectacled green eyes on me. Teeth aglitter with pastel-colored braces bit her lower lip. “What if I wait till it’s too late?”

It was decision time for Summer Camp and she was fretting.

Should she go to the same camp she’d gone to twice already, the camp her cousin goes to, and where several of her classmates will be? She loved it there. It was familiar. It was only three hours away from home. There was a lake and zip-lines and horseback riding. She was going to choose her best friend from last summer as a bunk-mate. It felt like another home.

Or … should she go to the other camp … the one she’d heard of last year but by then already had no openings? The science camp sounded like everything she’d ever want … but now the choice – and possible consequences – became real. That camp was half-way across the continent. It was on a campus, not in a forest. There’d be no one there she knows.

“My friends say I’m crazy because who wants school when there’s finally no school,” she sighed. Her finger twirled the edge of an auburn lock. Twist, hold, release; twist, hold, release. I thought of how the movement mirrored her dilemma … To hold on or to let go, to keep close or to let loose.

A difficult concept at any age, let alone at eleven.

“Hmm …” I noted. It wasn’t my input this child needed, just my ear.

“It’s not like school!” she stressed, a bit defensively. “It’s interesting! Also, they have summer camp activities. A pool, and trips, even arts and crafts. … Well, the crafts are more like, robotics and such, but that’s still crafting stuff, isn’t it?”

I nodded.

She took a deeper breath. “And I like science … They have a whole week about space. We’ll even get to visit a real observatory!” Her eyes shone as if they were already reflecting several constellations, and she sat straighter. Then she sagged. “But I don’t know anyone.”

“Not yet,” I noted. “I gather this won’t last.”

The auburn curl twirled, corked, released. “Yeah … There were a lot of kids I didn’t know in the other camp, especially the first time. But …” the big green eyes widened as the core of doubt unmasked. “What if everyone there is, you know, dorks and nerds and such?”

My eyebrows rose, amused. “And if they are? …”

She frowned but then a pastel-braces grin appeared. “Well … then I’ll fit right in…”

womenscientist1

 

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