Friday, October 21, 2016

A Broken Toy

When the school year started last month, we had a Jack-in-the-box. Children played with it every day, several times a day, until, as inevitably happens when a toy designed for a bedroom finds its way into a classroom, it broke. Specifically, the little latch that holds the lid shut snapped off.

It still plays "All Around the Mulberry Bush" when you turn the crank, but "Jack" no longer surprises us when the tune gets to "Pop! goes the weasel." I figure it's time to chuck it, but as I often do with broken things, I'm waiting for the kids to tell me it's garbage. It's now been at least four weeks and that hasn't happened. In fact, the children still play with the broken toy every day.

Most of them know how it's supposed to work. I've watched child after child struggle to shove Jack into his box, tucking his arms and head all the way in, then closing the lid, only to have him pop out the moment they let go to start turning the crank. Some of them have complained, "It doesn't work," to which I've replied, "It's broken." That information doesn't stop most of them as they continue to make it work one way or another.

Most settle on holding the lid shut with one hand, while cranking with the other. Some have had friends or adults hold the lid for them. Some of them try to time their release with the tune, while others release the lid at random moments.

Whatever the case, they still laugh when Jack pops up, just as they did before the box was broken. And it's the laugh, not the latch, that makes it a worthwhile toy.

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