I love watching Me Too in the sandbox. She’s so careful, precisely measuring out sand and water with a plastic spoon from a can of baby formula that no baby ever used. (Although it came in handy after the earthquake for creamer in my coffee. Milk didn’t come regularly for the first couple of weeks, and we saved the real stuff for the kids.)
She clasps her hands together under her chin in anticipation, waiting with bated breath to see how her creation will emerge from the mold. When it goes well, she’ll give a little happy clap. If not, she stamps her foot and says, “Oh, mannn. ”
Me First, on the other hand, enters the sandbox like a force of nature. He builds volcanoes or bridges, deep connected underground labyrinths. I must constantly remind him to keep the sand in the sandbox.
We are lucky to have a big-enough sandbox behind our building. In the summer, it’s unbearable. But come autumn, the sun slants in at a different angle and a cool breeze blows in with the late afternoon. It’s a very pleasant place to play. Behind it there is a small hill (enough for sledding in winter,) and a grouping of trees and bushes that a city mouse might call a grove.
How many hours have we spent there?
I could not begin to count. We went there to play the afternoon we brought Me Too home from the hospital, to escape the heat and worry of the house, to catch our breath and a breeze.
It’s a gathering place for the kids in our neighborhood. There is a bench there where the teenagers sneak their first kisses and first cigarettes.