Generations Day Care Part Eight: The Etch-a-Sketch Castle
I remember the names of each child. They all had their unique personalities and I respected and admired them all.
Although the boys got a lot of benefit from my presence I like to believe I made as strong of an impression on the girls. Girls need a positive influence as much as boys, especially from men. The way a man treats a girl when she is younger will have a huge part in the kind of boys she dates when she's old enough. If you treat her like she's an intelligent person who deserves respect she will always believe that all guys should treat her that way and hopefully she won't wind up with someone who hits her.
The moments I enjoyed most working at the day care were those little one-on-one moments with each of the kids. Whether it was at the rec center, or on a field trip, or just playing a game during free period there was always an opportunity to spend time with the individual kids.
Ten year-old Larissa had brown eyes and dark blond hair trimmed short, which hung around her head like a halo. Her favorite shirt was a Winnie the Poo t-shirt that she wore at least once each week and she was always smiling. If there was a word for sad in her vocabulary she didn't show it. During story time she sat in my lap and at recess it was Larissa and her friends who told me how fast to push them on the tire swing.
One day during free block an hour or so before the parents arrived I sat down in the section of the cafeteria marked as the play area where Larissa was playing with the Etch-a-Sketch. She sat on one of the cushions and I sat in the large rocking chair that a parent had donated. (How I wish it had been there that night I had Raymond sleeping in my lap)
"What are you drawing?" I asked looking over her shoulder.
"I'm trying to draw a castle." She said turning the knobs this way and that. "But I'm having a hard time. Can you help me?"
"Sure." I answered. I went from the chair to one of the other cushions so that I could watch the screen as she worked the knobs. "Okay, first you want to make some really high walls."
After shaking it clean Larissa used the vertical knob to make two lines strutting upwards from the bottom. She then connected them at the top with a long line for a roof.
"Okay, now the castle has to have a moat around it."
"What's that?" She asked.
"Well, a moat is a large pit of water dug around a castle. When the drawbridge goes up nobody can get in unless they swim over."
Larissa made a circle around the castle and then we had our moat.
"Better put some crocodiles in there. They'll eat anyone who tries to get in." I suggested, bearing my teeth and mimicking a biting crocodile. Larissa giggled and asked me what next. "Well, what do castle's usually have in stories?"
"Oh yeah, I forgot the draw bridge!" Larissa drew the draw bridge on one side of the castle, which was pretty much just a straight line going over the moat.
We added some towers, and a lot of vines for the prince to climb up.
"Good job," I smiled warmly.
Of course, as is the fate with most Etch-a-Sketch drawings this one got erased before the day was out. But it's in my mind even now and it's the memory I think of most when I think of Larissa.