Grown-ups. I am a grown up or I play one regularly on this show called my life. Sometimes my job as a nanny. Sometimes in my family. But the kids think I am a kid adult. And I am not sure if it is because I don’t have grown-up things like a house or a husband or kids to call my own. But actually it is probably because I am a grown up but still childlike. The kids write me notes and cards that say- Kate’s number one rule- Have fun! Y will say you remember how it is to be a kid. How important street cred is- I laugh. I let them play and laugh in the safety of not running while chewing or terrorizing each other too much.
For I am still a grown-up but it is nice to take off the veil of adultness that seems to squelch the fun of living. I let it go, go until K starts skipping with his mouth full. Or when he runs with his hands in the pocket- power hand out I remind. I am a grown-up again. But grounded in the sand of the playground, throwing the water in the play fight, allowing the kids to have whip cream poured in their mouth from their can sometimes. Sometimes. Once a month I allow them to. I tell them stop having fun. Having fun is not allowed in a serious tone with a smirk coming through. Then we laugh. Laugh. And I splash the kids with water, water, water from the dishes sprayed from the sprinkler of my hand.
It is hard to be a grown-up and not forget the childhood ways, the ways we were, the lightness of when the next game of super hero, when the next ice cream run would happen, when we might play doctor or school again. I forgot about water fights, water fights until last weekend. Last weekend when I was watching a set of twins and their sister. All together with tupperware and plastic cups and hoses. I sprayed them like my childhood sprinkler I ran into back and forth up and down on the damp grass it was the solitude from the heat. Laughter reverberated into my heart. Into theirs and we decide, I decide that water fights should be required. Required. So as grown-ups we don’t forget.
Grown-ups. As grown-ups I have learned what matters most other than the chalk of the line of boundaries is modeling. Psychology reports this, cognitive and behaviorists analyze this, studies support this, parents and child givers try and do it. Model. Model my clay of humanity. Of how to be a grown-up, how to be a kid, how to make the right choices.
As I run after, after the empty milk carton gallon down the Cole Valley Street. I run after recycling because I shouldn’t litter of course. But I run more and more as it tumbles pounding it’s plastic against the pavement springing up and down it keeps going. But I keep going, keep going because she is watching me. Watching me run after the milk carton. I keep running because she is watching. And I know, I know she values recycling. And would be heartbroken if we littered the family trash. I run praying that it will stop down it’s windy hill. My bouncing ball of modeling keeps going until it stops in the bottom half of a bmw. Alas, I reach down to grab it and my reefs begin to slip from under me. I am sliding and catching myself and now flashing the cars and their passerbys my world from underneath my dress. Flying up. I catch myself and catch the carton and turn around running up the hill. I know I did it because I am a grown-up. I know I did it because I am still a kid. I know I did it because she was watching. Modeling and laughing is what I try to do. Try to remember what was fun so I can teeter tooter between responsibilities and the freedom. The freedom. I laugh. But I still run after that carton. But alone I might have let it go. You can’t let it go when they are watching.
As I drive, I remember they are watching. As I remember my father yelling. Yelling at the cars. I willed children super powers for him to stop. Heart rattling my chest. And not get out of the car. But I still talk to the driver’s. It wasn’t your turn. I say. Come on dude drive. I say. Seriously. I say. For the quest and calling of urban driving is a map of routes in my head of the best way to go. Best way to go. Then I hear her say. It wasn’t your turn. It wasn’t their turn she was right. They are always watching. Even when we forget we are grown-ups.