So the other morning I was running an errand down on campus. As I walked across the parking lot, I noticed little white flakes scattered all over the ground, drifting against cracks in the cement and swirling in the gusts of wind. At first glance they looked like tiny flower petals like you see sometimes in the Spring, blown loose from a large, white-blooming tree. I thought, “Oh, how lovely!” but then I thought, “but wait – it’s June…” and I looked again. They weren’t flower petals, or anything organic at all. It was little plastic beads of Styrofoam, crumbled up and blowing all over the place. When I got inside I asked about it, and was told that it was packing material from the new windows that are being installed. Somehow it had gotten loose, and now it was decorating everything as far as the eye could see (although that is admittedly constricted, considering how almost every vista there is cut off by a large, brick building of one kind or another). As I walked back out to my car, I watched the plastic bits dancing in the breeze. It was still pretty, but now it was sad too.
I’m not sure why I just told that story. It doesn’t really relate to anything else in my life. Just it was a funny moment, and I thought I’d share it with you.
I’ve spent a large part of my morning today inventorying supplies for the annual work picnic, specifically the stuff for the children’s games, including the prizes This means I filled a whole sheet with notations like “Small plastic turtles – 64″ and “Temporary tattoo, small – 2,” and “Parachute soldiers – 30.” Some of the stuff looks like fun (the blow-up princess wands, for instance, and the turtles – I can imagine a four year old playing for hours with those things). But some of it looks a lot like the sort of thing that ought to be fun, but just isn’t. The five bazillion Magic Slates, for example. When you’re about seven, they look awesome – write on the pad, lift the cover sheet off to erase your words, and write again! But after about thirty seconds you realize that you don’t really have anything you want to write, the little stylus provided doesn’t mark very well, lifting the top sheet off never completely erases anything, and then the whole thing comes apart in your hand because it’s only held together by one shoddy staple. And then it’s just trash.
Maybe we’ll have to order more supplies, and I could get the kids some actually fun toys! I think some wind-up teeth could be awesomely fun. And then you have to have bouncy balls. Oh, and kites! They should have kites! And Jacob’s Ladder – a classic, but still fun. And stretchable flying frogs to annoy each other with, and pirate finger puppets, and funky playing cards (you have to start learning poker sometime), and nose pencil sharpeners, and glitter notepads (much better than any old Magic Slate!), and maybe even some tattoos a self-respecting kid wouldn’t be ashamed to wear. Yeah, that would be pretty cool.