"Lesley, we need a sign that says 'Dig Pit.'"
Of course we do, everyone needs a sign that says "Dig Pit." I want one for my house, even. But I asked him why anyway. He told me that, "Then, everyone would know what it was."
Here are the words that give me joy in that sentence -- first, "everyone." "Everyone" in an almost five-year-old's view is literally everyone. Every person on the planet. This is because the wall that exists between self and the whole rest of the world is paper thin, even nonexistent. He wants EVERYONE to know -- This is a dig pit. Which brings me to my second favorite word, "it." This tiny word means so much. The dig pit is a great and worthy endeavor in the mind of this child. It is his and it is bigger than the whole world which is why everyone needs to know about it. I am sure that he can see this dig pit from outer space. To avoid confusion, it must have a sign.
This particular hole in the ground began because one of the children thought that he could dig up the roots of the hickory tree in order to knock it over.
The children gathered and stood around the small hole and talked about what it would mean if the tree would fall over. Some of the children worried that the great tree, once uprooted, would fall on the school. Others simply worried about the tree itself. They know that the tree is already sick, its heartwood is rotting. Why would anyone hack at the roots of something as dear as this tree with its heartwood already failing? It's that old eternal battle between the practical and romantic that argued against this uprooting project. This particular it was discontinued, but the hint of the pit remained.
After a big rain, the edge of a stone peeked through. Interest was not just renewed it was fired up! Quick, bring more shovels and ropes! This mystery has to be solved! After just a handful of days and heave ho-ing, the rock was pulled out and the pit was bigger.
Now the digging in the pit has begun in earnest. First of all, there has to be another stone in there. How can anyone rest with just one stone pulled from a dig pit? The dirt from the dig pit was becoming a problem. The children needed a wheelbarrow. We only have one since our Community Playthings wheelbarrows retired after 30+ years of moving dirt from other dig pits. No problem! We can use the big one, the digging crew all agreed. They only needed help moving the full wheelbarrow away from the pit, luckily for them, there are a bunch of adults just standing around and who obviously need something to do.
This is a small work crew working on this dig pit -- self-described as the "construction crew." They work on it most days with time off for some when there is ice to be found. Ice on the play yard requires immediate and full attention. Ice cannot be left to its own devices. It must be located and smashed. As everyone knows. Immediately. In between, though, the digging continues. The crew ranges in number between 2 and 5 diggers. If they discover something, even the ice hunt and other play arcs will stop. All attention will be directed on the pit. That goes without saying.
The best part of the story though is that the dig pit itself is a play message left by that construction crew that will be picked up and read by all the other children at the school. The dig pit itself IS the sign that is read by the other children. They read it just like we read the newspaper. A-ha, this is "it" and "everyone" knows...the work must be continued.