Revision and Adaptation

I’ve written before about making changes and modifications to the program and learning environment.  Usually these alterations are made to address an issue or a need and will provide some benefit to the children in my care.

However, sometimes it is not me, or even the children that initiate the change.  Such was the case for the fire pit.  I don’t oooh and awww over fire pits — but my husband does.  We’ve had several different models over the years.  I’ll admit that I do occasionally go out and sit by the fire with him briefly but he can sit there for hours.

Now, the thing about fire pits is that they need a good location.  Here, the best location is in the gravel area of the yard.  Sure, the side yard has some gravel too but it is too close to the house so our fire pit gets put in the children’s play area.

I’ve made sure there is always an open space in the gravel area where he can put the fire pit when he wants to use it.  But he complains.  You see, it is a lot of work to get the fire pit out of the storage area, unwrap it, and set it up.  Then, after the fire he has to wait for it to cool down enough that he can wrap it up and put it away again.  He wanted a place to put it permanently.

He’s been mentioning it for years and sometimes I pretend not to hear.  He understands that I don’t want the children playing around a soot covered fire pit – he said he can put a cover on it.  I have to resist the urge to have a tantrum like a two-year-old.  Flailing arms and stomping feet “It’s my yard, mine, mine MINE!”  Maybe I need to learn to share, or cooperate.

So I ask, “What kind of cover?”

“A box” he replies excitedly.

“A box, what kind of a box?”

“A wooden one, with rounded corners so they don’t hurt themselves.”

“They’ll climb on it”

“I’ll make it strong.  They can climb on it or jump on it or put stuff on it – whatever they want.  And it will be heavy too so they won’t be able to move it.”

Sigh, “OK”.  So last weekend he put the little fire pit in the gravel area, built the box, painted it and put it over the pit.  “Stand on it” he says.  I did. “Jump” Ok, I get it, it is very strong. But there is a box in the middle of the play area.  It is surrounded by tree stumps, rocks and plants and it looks…unnatural.

I rearrange a few of the things in the yard to improve the ‘flow’.  Then I sit and stare, trying to come up with a plan.  He walks by, stops, and says. “You could decorate it.  Or better yet, let them decorate it.  Paint some flowers and butterflies on it.”

“Maybe, we’ll see” I decided to see what the children thought.  Monday morning they ran outside and within seconds they were up on the box – dancing.  I watched.  “Oh Cheryl” they said, “We love the new stage!”

Stage?  I never thought of it as a stage.

My husband came outside.  “Do they like it?” he asked.

“They think it is a stage” I reply

“Hey, what is under here?” one of the children asks.

“It’s a dragon, a fire breathing dragon” my husband says.  The children laugh and continue dancing and singing too.

We haven’t decorated the box – yet – they’ve been too busy putting on shows.