Thursday, November 02, 2017

Our Recipe For Poopy-Butt Stew

Several kids were making "poopy-butt stew," filling their cauldron with pretty much anything that wasn't anchored down. It wasn't until the container was nearly full that someone said, "We need to put water in it." They carried the stew to our cast iron pump where they filled it with water, rendering it too heavy for just one child.

One girl, however, attempted to manage it on her own. When the others saw her struggling they didn't wait to be asked, they didn't ask if she wanted help, they simply gathered around and took a share of the load. They shuffled along together, bearing that weight, saying, "Poopy-butt stew" as often as possible. It wasn't the weight as much as the awkwardness of so many of them trying to work together in a small space that caused them to drop it. Luckily, the cauldron landed without spilling a drop.

Their unspoken goal was to move the stew back to where they had started which was on the other side of the swings at the base of a couple cedars, not far away, but farther than they collectively felt they could carry it. Someone suggested they use the wagon, an idea that was readily accepted. They worked together to wrestle the wagon into the sandpit, then to put their cauldron into the wagon bed. One girl grabbed the handle and began to pull, but was stopped by a boy, "Oh no, what about the step?" He was pointing at the one-foot drop they would need to navigate.

"Oh yeah," she answered, "We'll spill the poopy-butt stew." They decided that their alternative route was to take the wagon the long way around, where there was a short concrete slope leading to the lower level of the sandpit. By now most of the other children had moved on to other things, but this boy and girl stuck to their project. It took a great deal of effort to get the wagon turned around in the tight space, but working together they did it. It took a great deal of effort to get the wagon around the tree trunks and to the top of the slope, but working together they did it.

I considered intervening at this point. The slope is short, but rather steep. Their plan was for one to pull and the other to push and I saw the potential for the downhill child to get run down by a wagon made run-a-way by the pull of gravity. Before I could say or do anything, however, they achieved the critical point and as I'd feared, the wagon took off, knocking the girl to the ground. She came up laughing, then they were both laughing, then they began playing a game of falling down while saying "poopy-butt stew," making one another laugh as they fell into the sand over and over.

I kind of figured that this was the end of one project and the beginning of another. They had already been working to transport their stew for the better part of 15 minutes, they were now farther away than when they had started, most of their friends had abandoned them, and I saw multiple obstacles they still had to overcome. I was wrong, however, when after a few minutes of silliness they returned to their task, saying they needed to finish cooking their "poopy-butt stew."

In one direction they saw the same dilemma they had perceived from the top of the sandpit: there was a drop-off that they worried would cause them to spill the stew, not a drop of which had been lost to this point. They decided to take the long way around our aluminum row boat, a plan that looked even more fraught to me, but it wasn't my project so I kept my mouth shut. What had convinced them to take this route was that the sand in this area is piled up to the top of the tree rounds that contain the pit. They used this accident of play and erosion to wrestle the wagon atop the tree rounds, which they intended to use as a kind of roadway. Sadly, the wagon was a bit to wide and with every step a wheel got stuck, which meant they had to essentially carry the wagon in fits and starts.

They were now going uphill and they stopped saying "poopy-butt stew" to concentrate their efforts, one pushing, one pulling, to get the wagon back up the slope to the upper level of the playground. They were now back to the point near the cast-iron pump where they had first decided they had needed to detour, a rigorous and circuitous route that had consumed nearly a half hour. The shortest route to their destination at the base of the cedars was through the swing set, but as kids were swinging, they cheerfully opted to go the long way around, finally maneuvering the wagon into place.

They then, as if no time had passed when indeed it was 45 minutes later, called the rest of the "poopy-butt stew" crew back together and they lifted together to get the cauldron on the ground.

They spent the rest of the afternoon plotting to get their hands on some real dog poop to add to their concoction to make it "extra delicious." It was then that I finally intervened, telling them that I didn't have any dog poop, but there was some chicken manure in the greenhouse if they wanted some of that. They did, so I fetched a cup of the stuff and their stew was finally ready for the table.

I've just published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share

No comments: