Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Feeling Check: Today...Sick and All Grown Up

Feeling check: so today I feel really old and sick. A few nights ago I had a "coming of age," I suppose you could say. It was my volunteer night, a time when I get to visit a halfway home for homeless families and entertain the kids. Not like a clown or anything creepy; my time is usually spent doing Russian dances to Manu Chao, playing the ukelele, and getting them to sing Chinese nursery rhymes while playing finger symbols. There's usually one kid that takes a particular interest in me. They're usually very clever little shits, realizing that I just don't have it in me to discipline them and tell them to stop running around like mental patients and screaming at the top of their lungs. I'm perfectly content goofing off alongside them and acting completely oblivious to general rules.

So the other night there was Jonathan. He had the most amazing little smile, even with little white teeth eclipsed by remnants of chocolate. And he made every effort to impress me with his car collection--all five hot wheels that he stored in his pockets. During reading time, he requested that I be the one to read to him. So we sat at a little tykes dining room table with a book on sharks. I tried to make the multisyllabic species' names sound like easy words, but his interest was fading fast. He took the book from me and, at age four, "read" it to me instead.

"There are big sharks, mean sharks, ugly sharks that swim around," he said.

As he continued reading, a precocious toddler named Jessica stumbled near, wielding a fake doctor's bag. She slapped a fake cast on my wrist, put a stethoscope on my knee, and, leaning in real close, stuck an ear scope in my ear while coughing on me very loud and generously. I also recall her stealing one of Jonathan's hot wheels, only to put it in her mouth and hand it back to me as a gift.

Soon we were called back into the circle for more singing. The rug's outer edge is decorated with the alphabet, and the kids are usually told to choose a letter to sit on. Jonathan grabbed my hand and pulled me to the circle. There was a splatter design to fill the gap between the beginning and end of the alphabet. I tried to sit on a letter, but Jonathan barked, "Grown ups sit there!" He pointed to the splatter.

This is the first time I've been labeled a "grown up" and I really feel uncomfortable about it. Also, I'm really very sick for some reason.

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