Asher and I went to the playground yesterday. Asher likes it there. The playground consists of two sections: one for preschoolers, and one for older kids. Asher, being 2 1/2 years old, generally prefers the area where all the toddlers run amok. The little ones climb and slide and swing, while their moms hover nearby, eyes glued to their smartphones, yet somehow acutely aware of the wellbeing of their children. A few grandparents, like me, watch over their charges and observe them with a certain amount of amusement and concern.
There are two small slides in one part of the playground. They are purple in color, and they are side by side. Asher wanted to go down one of them, but two little girls got to the slides before him. The girls slid down, and one of them stood up and looked at Asher with curiosity. She was about Asher’s height, but not as stocky. The little lady had straw blonde hair, shoulder length with bangs. She wore a pink t-shirt with a picture of cherries on it that said: “Always sweet”. Asher stared back at her. Neither of them said anything.
The girl and her friend went down the slide again as Asher watched. The friend somehow fell down after sliding and started crying. Her mother had remarkably acute hearing and went quickly to her child. The kid got to her feet, forgot that she had ever fallen down, and ran off to play elsewhere.
That left the cherry girl with Asher. She beckoned to Asher with her hand that he should follow her. He did, like a little puppy dog. The girl wanted Asher to go down the slide with her. As they sat down together at the top of the slide, she tried to hold his hand. Asher snatched it away from her like she had COVID. They both slid down and then the girl convinced Asher to give her a high five.
From there they ran around through the preschool section of the playground. There were two large frogs that were mounted on heavy-duty springs. Kids can climb up on the frogs and ride them like rocking horses. Asher and the girl did that. Then they both climbed through a tunnel. There were some raised steppingstones that looked like mushrooms. The girl skipped across them and waited for Asher to follow. Asher wasn’t quite as agile as Miss Cherries. He walked unsteadily over the steppingstones, as the girl held his right hand. He fell off and asked me to hold his hand. This disappointed the girl. Asher managed to navigate the mushrooms this time.
The little girl smiled at Asher and said, “Good job!”
The two kids went to play on something else as I watched them with the girl’s mother. I told the mom, “The boy is named Asher.”
She nodded and told me her daughter’s name.
I asked, “How old is she?”
The mother told me, “She is 3 1/2.”
“Ahhh…” I thought. “And so, it begins. Another boy beguiled by the charms of an older woman.”
The mother abruptly called to her daughter, “C’mon, let’s see what the other kids are doing.”
The little girl ran off at her mother’s side. Asher stood there forlorn and watched her go.
Then, he turned around and ran to the swings.
Frank (Francis) Pauc is a graduate of West Point, Class of 1980. He completed the Military Intelligence Basic Course at Fort Huachuca and then went to Flight School at Fort Rucker. Frank was stationed with the 3rd Armor Division in West Germany at Fliegerhorst Airfield from December 1981 to January 1985. He flew Hueys and Black Hawks and was next assigned to the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, CA. He got the hell out of the Army in August 1986.
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