The younger pair here go to little classes most mornings during the week. The classes are only an hour and a half, not preschool but still a place for them to get around other children and to do circle time for a little bit. Monday and Wednesday are my favorites. This week, BoyOne is on spring break, so he got to go with us this morning. BoyTwo was delighted to show his 'school' to his big brother, but BoyOne ended up feeling way too big for the toys and activities, geared as they were to three- and four-year-olds. He sat with me and we watched everyone.
There was a grandmother with her grandson; that little boy didn't like participating in anything, instead preferring to stand within six inches of Grandma and keep an eye on things. He did sit on the mat during circle time, but was not up to any further participation.
Another grandmother had a granddaughter there. That little girl was a live wire, giggling and flirting and running whatever activity she participated in. This grandma appointed herself the handwasher of the group, stationing herself near the sink and washing and drying whatever little hands came within a foot or two of her. This grandmother didn't seem to speak English, speaking solely Chinese while in the room, but she liked my trio and we smiled and laughed back and forth at each other over the heads of our charges.
One grandfather was there with two granddaughters, the younger one looking so much like him, it cracked me up. His older granddaughter was right in the mix with the other children, while the younger girl stuck close to him. That grandpa was the wonderful sort, helping all the children, guiding any within his orbit, handing out cookies, and helping them move chairs and such when needed. His English was heavily accented but the children had no trouble with it at all--that sort of grandfatherliness transcends language.
One man was there with his daughter. Other than the obvious donation of another X-chromosome, that little girl looked so like her father it was hard to imagine anyone else contributing any genetic material at all. I wondered a bit at the father being there instead of a mother, nanny, or grandparent, but then I looked closer at him and saw his shoes were very down-at-heel and, through a crack in the side of one of them, I could see his toes--he had no socks. Economic troubles didn't affect the loving way he dealt with his daughter, though; they made a lovely pair.
One woman was there with her son and a new baby girl. The little boy was as lively as BoyTwo here, jumping up every couple of seconds and talking whenever a thought crossed his mind. At one point, one of the little girls snatched a toy banana from that little boy and it was more than he could bear; he threw himself on the floor and wailed when she wouldn't give it back. His mother was busy with her infant, so the one grandfather and the father jumped into action, the grandfather hustling over to the sobbing boy and rubbing his back and crooning to him in lopsided English, while the father went to his daughter and explained the little boy's upset, getting his daughter to apologize and give back the banana.
During circle time, the teacher wanted the children to have their hands hanging at their sides so they could start playing the hokey-pokey. But, the one little boy was standing between the two lively little girls, happily holding hands with each of them. The teacher repeated about three times, "hang your hands at your sides," but the children just smiled at her and kept holding hands--she totally missed that they were holding their hands at their sides, just holding hands while they did so. Each time she told them to put their hands down, the three children beamed happily at her, secure in the knowledge that they were following instructions. I was behind her, sending my awesome mind rays to her with the thought, "they DO have their hands at their sides; you need to tell them to let go of each other's hands." The thought got to her finally and she was able to tell them to not hold hands; that worked.
My trio here were among the other children but not with them much. They're such close siblings, such a self-contained unit of children, that they don't seem to feel the need to interact with other children when they have a sibling available. They did circle time and did the art project, but interacted directly only with each other. It was an interesting dynamic to watch.
At the end, the little boy who had watched everything did break down and whisper "bye" to me because I waved to him and said good-bye from a carefully non-threatening distance. Maybe next Monday, he'll say hello, too.
Today was my Grandma's birthday, sort of. She was the seventh child of my great-grandparents, born four years after they lost their home in the fire after The Big One in 1906. She grew up celebrating her birthday on March 29th, while her brother who was the first child born after the earthquake was born on March 26th; another sister was born on March 27th. When my great-uncle went to retire, he had to get his birth certificate, then as the story goes, he called up Grandma and told her she should check her birth certificate. Their mother had mixed up their birthdays early on, with Grandma's actual birthday being the 26th and UncleB's being the 29th. Given the mixed-up situation in San Francisco those years, Great-Grandma's goof was completely understandable. I think about it every March 26th and March 29th, and wonder what it must have been like to find out your birthday was not your birthday, after all.