Some people might find spending 90 minutes at a McDonald’s Play Place akin to working for 20 years on the chain gang, like Jean Valjean does in Les Miserables.
I’m not one of those people. To me going to that room of brightly-colored interconnecting tubes is just the thing when I have charge of my two young grandsons. I find it does them good: the climbing in and out of them, the hollering gaily to other children, the swinging themselves round and round the sturdy steel poles that hold the structures up.
It’s a metaphor for life the way they ascend up out of their grownups’ sight. We old people all sit down below, holding their coats.. We can’t get at them with our big old grownup bodies. All we can do is pray they’re OK .
Used to be when we came here the littler one of these guys would climb up inside and then just sort of slow down in there and start pondering things. Oh God he takes after me! was all I could think, since I was always sitting down in the outfield WHILE THE KICKBALL GAME WAS GOING ON; just kind of easing down onto the ground to run my fingers through the grass and dream. Was that what he was doing, when he‘d park himself inside that final slide-tube and just secretly remain there, like an intestinal blockage, preventing all the other little ones from getting by unless they clambered over him?
Add to that the fact that he’d sometimes be crying.
But none of that happened yesterday. The bigger one continued his ministry of niceness, finding out other kids’ names and offering to give them a boost up. He has been like this since he looked like this at age five and kindly asked me, when we were in the bathroom of his house once, if I needed for him to reach me a tampon . (That shows what life with a houseful of women will do for a child!)
And the little one, seen below here?
This time at the Play Place, he neither wept nor created any blockages. He just sat right with me and his Yoda toy as we ate and only much later disappeared up into that place where adults cannot follow.
The two are in kindergarten and third grade now and I find myself wondering: How many more times will they want to come to the McDonald’s Play Place with old TT which is what they call me?
Who can say? There are things we cannot know as well as places we cannot go. I think on my tombstone it should say: “It was enough to have held their coats.”