To Play in Piermont
(3 years 1 month)
Sometime last winter when you were about two and a half, it became obvious to us, Mommy first, then me, that Hong was not going to be able to meet your needs much longer. We agonized over taking you away from her; her love for you is so great. But your burgeoning physical capacities demanded a larger forum; we began to contemplate change.
I’ve got to tell you sweetheart, this parenting thing seldom ceases to amaze. Our needs are simple, or so I thought. A place to stash the kid a few hours a week where an adult will see that he’s dry and warm, prevent him from getting clobbered or becoming dehydrated, and to some degree keep him amused. That’s it. Is that so much to ask? Well you would think so after interviewing a dozen groups in as many villages up and down the river. Like if he comes home with his mittens we’re cool. Not a chance. Each little group has a philosophy, a theory, rituals, policy, principals, procedures, methodology for God’s sake. And as a concerned parent one is obliged to listen to it all. This is hard work.
Finally, the Piermont Playgroup won the honor of your company. Piermont is a village about three miles south of Nyack, and is little more than a couple of terraces cut into the high, steep cliffs of the Palisades that rise directly out of the Hudson River. The lower terrace is River Road, a narrow blacktop with a thin row of houses along the inland side, and a brave assemblage hanging off the riverside with their feet in the water. The Playgroup occupies a former grade school, set on a second terrace, which runs along about a hundred feet above the river. The two rooms of the building overlooking the Hudson with polished wooden floors, high ceilings, and tall windows, have been let into one large, gloriously light filled space that presents the stunning illusion of being suspended over the water. I have never been in a more attractive room.
We signed you up. Beginning in September, right after you turn three, you begin a schedule of 12:30 to 3:30, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.This is your first day in any kind of organized, child-focused activity. Mommy has skipped work for this event. We are nervous and hesitant to drop you off. You spend three hours with the Playgroup, while Mommy and I hang out at the Sidewalk Café. We are as wary of this experiment as kittens appraising their first solid food.
Picking you up is a festive event with mommies and staff bustling about, the first intent on capturing their little darlings, the latter focused on the correct allocation of property. It’s going to be nuts when we get to boots and mittens. You are your usual cheerful self and we slowly relax riding home along the River.
We have an early supper and spend the evening hanging out in the living room. Mommy is laid back against the cushions at one end of the couch, and I’m sitting at her feet. You’re walking back and forth across Mommy, sitting on her belly, and being your usual, energetic self. So there we are, just fooling around and chatting, when suddenly, apropos of nothing, you leap off the couch and land on the floor, your feet firmly planted, one arm raised in the air with an index finger pointing to the ceiling. And in a loud, declamatory voice, you say, Get off the table or I'll smack you in the face.
You’re smiling from ear to ear, immensely proud of yourself. Mommy and I look at each other, eyes wide, in total rapport. Our worst fears are realized. You are laughing, we are aghast. We stare at each other while we hesitate to speak, sort of offering each other the courtesy, or the opportunity, to say what we didn't have the least idea how to phrase.
The next day you came home with a fart joke.