We’ve had a covered seating area in the yard for several years. It was originally built to cover the BBQ and benches were added later after we no longer used it for the BBQ. Over the years the configuration of the benches and the position of the entire structure has changed.
Most recently we moved the benches to one long side and added a fold-out table to the other long side by the storage box. Both ends are open and the decking provides a bridge-like walkway from the grass area to the gravel area.
This summer the children have decided that this area is ‘The Store’.
Every day ‘customers’ line up in the grass area by the ‘counter’ and a ‘store clerk’ stands on the walkway and gives the customers the items that they request. The items are always imaginary and the clerk sometimes has to search on/under the benches for quite a while before finding just the right items.
Often the customers are very specific when placing their orders. “I would like a small green rubber ball with yellow stripes and pink dots.” The clerk cannot always find the exact item but will offer substitutions. “I can’t find one with pink dots but this one has yellow stripes and purple dots. Is that OK?”
This store is a magical place carrying almost anything you can imagine. One of the favorite items is ‘A hamster…in a cage.’ The customer placing that order always pauses briefly before adding the cage as if they are not certain if they want/need the cage too.
Yesterday there were three children playing in the store. The three-year-old was the clerk and the two almost-two-year-old children were the customers. The clerk asked ‘What would you like?’ and one toddler replied ‘Apple’ so the clerk handed over an imaginary apple. The other toddler held out her hand and asked for an apple too. The clerk said ‘Sorry, no more apples today. The store is closed.’ and she walked away.
That was how the riot began. Two toddlers screaming at each other, pushing and grabbing an invisible apple from the others hand. I tried to offer them another apple……
The two toddlers looked at me. They turned and looked at each other and then looked at me again. They seemed confused. ‘Who is this crazy person and does she really think there is an apple in her hand? Does she realize that we see only air? Back away slowly and maybe she will not follow us.’
United they retreat to the other side of the yard, whispering to each other and looking over at me. I’m standing alone at the store – wondering what is wrong with my apple….I thought it was a perfectly wonderful apple….