Friday, May 22, 2009

Goodbye, Miss Haversham

I hear quiet chords of anthem music. Claye has decided to tackle her room...a museum of ancient treasure that has sat serenely for many months in complete stillness, quietly collecting dust. She is methodically moving from corner to corner with the dust cloth, polishing and restoring every precious object, and to my great delight, even deciding to part with some of them, relinquishing them to the school-benefit garage sale.

"Do you think she will mind if I give this away?" she asks, all concerned,holding out a bouquet of artificial flowers.
"What? Aren't those from your sister's wedding?"
"No, my cousin's wedding."
"But that's almost thirteen years ago. Surely she won't mind."
"And if I get rid of the lava lamps...?"
"That would be great. I'll take them to your sister and she can put them in the sale. They will add interest to her booth."
"But she's the one who gave them to me...."
"She won't mind. Nobody expects you to keep things forever."

Still, it's hard to part with things you like, especially if you remember who gave them to you and when. That's Claye's dilemma. She still has many of her childhood toys, and I think fully half of the attic holds boxes of her stuff. She loves all things Victorian and collects glass bottles; books by Dickens, prints by Gainsborough; she loves warriors and weapons--daggers and sais.

"What about this elf mask?" she asked again, holding out a paper mache and leaf concoction.
"The one you made for sculpture I?"
"Yes, I was going to throw it away, but it would look neat."
"Does it actually fit over the head."
"Um huh"
"Wow. Let me try it on. Amazing. No, we can't possible sell it. It will be perfect for a homecoming day at school--or a play prop--Midsummer night's dream or something.Let me put it in the attic."

...Well, she had to get it from somewhere.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brave Adventures for World Conquerors

It was the last day of school for my pre-school grandchild, and he invited me along for a picnic on the grounds of the small, private school he attends. In order to accommodate an interesting mix of activities, there were several scattered stations, and children moved from one to another whenever they heard a whistle. . . or as they desired. (Nobody was being too legalistic here). There was frisbee throwing, tetherball, three-legged races, and a softball throw--none of which interested the youngest children. (or their camera-toting grandparents, oddly enough.)

Zaya and Mim rushed over to the "learn a song" station first, where Zaya bravely practiced a song for the talent show finale while Mim clung to her mother, intimidated by the cheerful energy of the bright, young mom who ran the music DVD.

Presently, face-painting tables beckoned. Zaya left the jumping, singing, choreographopolis and raced over to watch as several children got sports logos painted on their faces. Rushing back to where we were loitering, he excitedly asked his mom if he couldn't have U-O painted on his. She didn't understand what he meant, until she saw the OU symbol on several little faces. So, when she explained that the symbol was only a football slogan, he opted for a painting of the planet Saturn instead. There was only one hitch: no face-painters, just parents and grandparents dealing with children who wanted great works of art painted on their cheeks with a four-color selection of basic elementary school tempera paint and a very limited supply of brushes. Too late, we noticed this. Mim had already decided on a butterfly. So, Grandma did the honors, decorating their faces as requested. The butterfly was rather plain and the planet Saturn seemed to be on fire, or at least windswept into the universe background, but it doesn't take much to thrill young children, so we were all blissful together.

From there we explored..."the outer games" as Zaya put it, still thinking in spaceship mentality. We looked first at a couple of horses that someone had forgotten to remove from their trailer before he drove to the picnic parking lot; next we found a little playground behind the school, quite removed from all the older, frisbee-involved students. Then, past all the slides, swings, and teeter-totters, we found every child's dream: a large mountain of red dirt piles. After I scouted it and pronounced it safe, my little explorers went crazy, running up and down, sliding every now and then into a soft crevice carpeted with lime-new grass. They gloried in adventure as they conquered mountain tops and set up their kingdoms; they built launch pads to expedite further explorations, then blasted into the sky, riding rockets bound for nameless planets. It was a thrilling game, and it held their interest until lunch, when we all sat on the grass and ate.

While we were eating, we visited with the family of one of Zaya's classmates, a lovely little girl I'll call Esther, who ran and hugged him when she recognized him this morning. Her mother is from Russia and has been a good friend to my daughter this year, sharing time at "Moms in Touch", which is a prayer support group for the teachers and students at the school. Esther's dad is from Ghana, and teaches computer classes at the local university.

So we had three continents represented at our picnic...North America, Asia, Africa...and the strong, steady, south wind nearly blew us all out into the half-ripe wheat pasture together.

How interesting that so many worlds meet on the Oklahoma plain, where explorers once carved out kingdoms in the red dirt. Overhead is still the same blue universe and the same God looks down at his children.