playing by the rules

i keep trying to decide which story to tell from my thursday night with kingston and roddy–a couple of boys i watch during a meeting their mom attends each week.  usually we hang around the building where the meeting happens but this week we wandered off and onto the downtown mall.  now we’re talking two boys, one who’s nearly three, the other nearly four, so it was slow progress down the mall, with much stomping of feet, stopping at shop windows and a healthy dose of whining.  don’t misinterpret, it was mostly wonderful and far more exciting than most walks along the downtown mall in charlottesville.  our end goal was the hand operated, old fashioned carousel that sits near the pavilion at the bottom of the mall.  we were sure excited about riding on it.

when we finally got there, we were distressed to find out that it closes at 5pm, closes behind a locked gate.  and in addition to being distressed i was thrown into a moral quandary.  i stood there leaning on the fence that encloses the carousel trying to decide whether to jump the fence or not.  i was clear i wanted to but there was something about bringing the boys into it that felt unclean.  meanwhile the boys wandered around the carousel in their disappointment and a little boy who was out having dinner with his family at one of those fancy restaurants with patio seating joined them.  while i was asking myself why i was following a rule that made no sense at all, roddy made my decision for me– i looked up just as he was squeezing under the fence.

i quickly lifted kingston over the fence and then climbed in myself.  i explained that somebody might come along and tell us we weren’t supposed to be playing on the carousel and, if that were to happen i would talk to them and then we would probably leave.  the boy from the nice family looked on in wonderment and a little bit of a moral quandary himself.  clearly he wanted to follow us, but he knew it was “wrong.”  and probably his parents wouldnt be too happy.  while i unsuccessfully tried to get the boys to let me push them, other families of a comfortable sort wandered by, assuming that the carousel was open, only to discover the locked fence.  it was fun to watch the reaction as they hit the wall of the locked gate.  shock, uncertainty, confusion.

then they would look up and we would engage.  yes, i reassured them, i had noticed the locked gate, but it seemed silly, since the carousel is hand pushed, so we just climbed on in.  and you could almost see the kids straining against their parents senses of lawfulness, of properness.  kids who could still tell when a rule doesnt make sense and will call an adult out on it.  that perpetually frustrating: but why not?

for kingston and roddy and i, the perfunctory retort of: because i said so, just wasn’t satisfactory.  unfortunately we weren’t able to convince any of the other parents, but if it had been up to them, i’m pretty sure we’d have had a carousel full of kids riding after hours.  and at least their parents saw someone else doing it.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 03:53:06

    i love this, of course. i can completely visualize you doing it. And i can see the healthy friction you are creating everywhere. thx for this important work.

    Reply

  2. Nanci Tansey
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 13:03:08

    Though you may not realize it this is exactly something your Dad would have done with you and your sisters. I of course would have been mortified but smiling.

    Reply

    • Sara Tansey
      Jun 28, 2011 @ 18:22:50

      oh i can totally see daddy doing this. maybe he and i arent as different as we think. 😉 and daddy would love these boys. maybe if y’all ever come up to visit he could come help me out with them on thursday night.

      Reply

  3. Steve Tansey -- almost 55-years young and still pushing the envelope.
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 04:14:28

    Been there…done that! Rules are for fools. Life is all about risk. You make me proud! Dad

    Reply

  4. horacio
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 04:49:55

    ok, i declare that exchange to be officially awesome, go tanseys. that carrousel is pretty cool too.

    Reply

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