Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Pegasus Babies; Pegasus Mommies

"It's time to go to bed now, little pegasus babies."

"Night-night mommy pegasus."

"I'm going to turn off the lights now pegasus babies."

They've been playing this game for a couple weeks now, these four-year-old girls. It's not unlike mommy-baby games children have played in the past, here at Woodland Park and indeed at every preschool everywhere. What makes this game different than the ones I've seen in the past is that instead of setting their game under the loft where we generally keep our pillows and blankets, these girls have moved their game out of the shadows and onto our checker-board rug which is typically dominated by groups of boys building castles and forts and bad guy traps. They have been carving out about half of the largest open area in the classroom for their game, sharing a space that is not normally shared.

"It's time to wake up now, pegasus babies."

"We're hungry, mommy pegasus."

"That's because it's time for your breakfast. I'll get some food for you."

As the pegasus babies wait for their mommy pegasus to return, they build their story, giving themselves pegasus baby names, discussing their relative ages, figuring out new ways to arrange their beds. When their mommy returns to feed them, they pretend to take bites, chewing, swallowing, and remarking on how good it tastes.

"Finish your food now, pegasus babies. It's time for your nap."

"Okay, mommy pegasus."

"I'm going to turn off the lights now. Sleep tight, sweeties."

Their game has attracted a few boys, two of whom want to be babies. They are shown to their beds. Two of the boys, however, are acting tough, hands on hips, saying, "These are our bad guy traps," pointing to their complicated structure. I see an implied threat and prepare myself to intervene, to protect their game, but the girls don't take it that way, diffusing the situation with diplomacy, "Oh, that's good. We don't want any bad guys around here," and "You can be the pegasus daddies." They don't want to be pegasus daddies, but they agree that they are there to protect the babies, which they do by becoming watchers of the game, saying nothing, doing nothing, just standing there in their commanding poses and stern faces.

Meanwhile the babies wake up, the babies go to sleep, the babies eat food, then the babies sleep again. The game doesn't include time for play, but then again it's all play. They are, in fact, playing with the cycles of life, around and around and around. In real life I know they aren't always so cheerful about eating and sleeping, but in this game they are all happy. In this world, there are no conflicts between mommies and their babies, nor with outside forces, there is just the cycle of mommies and babies and eating and sleeping in contentment. It's a game these girls own, right there in the middle of the room, making peace with it, making common cause with it, taking up as much space as they need, turning the lights off an on, simulating the cycle of night and day as they simulate the cycle of mommies and babies. It's all right there if you look for it, the past, present and future of every life ever lived.

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