Friday, April 28, 2017

"I Found A Jewel For You"

Among the many loose parts both large and small that comprise our playground, there have always been "jewels" or "treasures," glass florist marbles of various sizes, shapes and colors. At any given moment, no matter what age of kids playing out there, someone is always hunting for them, usually collecting them in a bucket. 

Lately, one boy has been attempting to collect them all. It's his stated goal. And his plan is to hoard them. Indeed, when other children come near his bucket he curls his torso over the opening just in case someone attempts to make a grab for his stash. He's been collecting all week, filling his bucket, then protecting it.

Yesterday, as I watched him clutching his bucket in two hands another child approached, apparently making a beeline for it. In a mild panic, the boy swung the bucket away, putting his body between it an the interloper, scowling warningly. His face relaxed in a moment, however, when the other child said, "I found a jewel for you," holding it out to him. He smiled then, holding the bucket out like a church usher passing the offering plate. As the jewel clinked into the metal bucket another child approached, also offering a jewel.

Indeed, a group of kids had spontaneously decided to help him collect all the treasure as a half dozen kids were scouring the ground on his behalf. As they filled his bucket, he began to relax about his hoard, no longer curling over it protectively when others approached. On the contrary, he held his bucket out to them, gladly accepting their contribution.

After a time, he carried his bucket to the new stage where he set it on the ground and without getting too far away from it, began to dance along to the music with several of his classmates. He was torn at first between really cutting loose and keeping a close watch on the jewels, but finally allowed the music to carry him away bit. Just when he was really getting into it another boy, getting into it in his own way, gave the bucket a massive kick, sending it along with its contents scattering across the boards. Our hoarder froze in horror, then began to quiver with rage, his whole body tense with the emotion. He screamed and it was obvious to me that he was not capable of forming words, so I took it upon myself to speak for him.

I called out, "Hey, those are the jewels he's been collecting!" The boy who had kicked the bucket stopped, then looked from me to his classmate who was still showing all the signs of anger. For me the moment was all about these two boys, one offended, the other the offender. I was so focused on the intensity of that stand-off that I didn't at first notice the small miracle that was taking place around their feet. The other children had set the bucket upright and had dropped to their knees, pausing in their dancing to refill the bucket for the boy who would hoard all the jewels. And as they did it, the intense emotions just blew away with the next breeze.

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