Thursday, December 14, 2017

What Are We Doing?

The Bad Guy Trap has become both an established part of our playground and a work in progress. It's something that I admire every day.

It's primarily the work of two boys, a constructing partnership that has been evolving for a couple years now. When I watch them work together, I'm reminded of many of my best relationships with other men, guys with whom I did things, like playing sports or man-handling firewood or noodling through a home improvement project. I think of these as shoulder-to-shoulder relationships.

The boys might play together for a half hour or more without once looking at one another's faces, but they are talking all the time, joking, shouting, and offering up their ideas with exclamation points: "Hey! This could be the lever!" "Yeah! And I have an idea! Let's pretend this is the bait!" As they play, their individual contributions build upon one another, piece upon piece, constructing friendship like one constructs a bad guy trap.

It's a work that has sprung from their friendship, a work of art, one they've been collaborating upon almost daily for a couple months now. They are taking the materials at hand and, in a partnership that frequently makes room for the contributions of others, making, repairing, and always improving upon it. My only irritations arise from the fact that it sometimes can come to include nearly everything that isn't nailed down. Since our code is that you get to use something until your finished with it, this has sometimes left the rest of the kids with a relative wasteland.

To the other kids' credit, they haven't complained much. Sure they sometimes whine that they need something from the trap, one of the shovels or a rope or something, but for the most part the Bad Guy Trap has become a simple fact of their lives at school. I'm sure that some of the kids think it has always been this way, that the lilacs have always be stuffed with anything that can be moved.

But my admiration far outweighs my irritations.

Everywhere I look, every day, this is what the four and five year olds are mostly doing, working together to create something that has never before existed under this sun. And when I step back, it's easy to see that this is what most adults wish we were doing as well. This is one of those times when we should consider the lesson our children can teach us. If we aren't working together to create something new, what are we doing?

Books make great holiday gifts. Maybe someone you know would like their very own copy of my book!

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