The Sandpit

  Today, the sandpit story features a set of “rules.” These rules are shared through a steady stream of dialogue by the teller of the play arc. These are told to anyone walking past and to those playing with her. They all agree that these rules make total sense even as they work out and argue over even the smallest detail. The rules govern the protection of their mermaid hearts in the face of danger. Burying these hearts means that nothing can touch them and they can live forever in human form.

Today, the sandpit story features a set of “rules.” These rules are shared through a steady stream of dialogue by the teller of the play arc. These are told to anyone walking past and to those playing with her. They all agree that these rules make total sense even as they work out and argue over even the smallest detail. The rules govern the protection of their mermaid hearts in the face of danger. Burying these hearts means that nothing can touch them and they can live forever in human form.

Somewhere along the way, we may feel like we are swimming against the tide. How many days can a child play in the sandpit? Will their play ever grow? Will it change? How much can you learn digging in the sand?

This isn’t a story about that except to say that there are a lot of children who gravitate towards and seem to stay with fingers and toes in the sand for days into weeks into years. I mean, they don’t really, but there they can be found more days than not.

We all know that the sand itself changes. It is cold or hot, wet or silty. There is the resistance of the shovel or the hand. Sometimes there are leaves in the sand, dry and crunchy or wet and slimy. There are insects in the sand, mostly grubs, but also worms that need to be rescued or just carried around. There are sticks, hickory nuts, rocks, pebbles all mixed up with the sand. Those all reveal an experiential, tactile pursuit which stands on its own if we are counting benefits or thinking about the “why” of having sand collected in a single area where children play.

This isn’t a story about that either.

This is a story about the stories found in the sandpit over a small set of days.

If you look at these photos you will see children, and a particular child, engaged in that digging, moving, surface-level thing that at a quick glance will seem to be about the tactile feel of sand collected in one place for you to dig in. There is so much more story to the whole thing though as there is with any sandpit, dig pit, sandbox, beach, mud pit around the world.

On the first day, there was a story about mermaid hearts. On the second it was a cake, but not just any cake, of course. On the third day, there was a visit to Granma’s house (the teller playing the role of Granma) and then on the fourth, a vampire musical was launched with only a sliver of sand available with a rain-filled tarp limiting access to the rest.

Four days. Three stories plus a musical. Digging in the sand is so much more than just digging.

  There is a cake, but not just any cake. This cake is a princess cake. And typical of children’s play rules, the preparation never ends and the party is already happening. Children can inhabit multiple story lines at the same time. It is a lovely place to be.

There is a cake, but not just any cake. This cake is a princess cake. And typical of children’s play rules, the preparation never ends and the party is already happening. Children can inhabit multiple story lines at the same time. It is a lovely place to be.

  Today there is a visit to Granma’s house. Everyone must come. There is food, again, but this time it is pie. This pie is all pies in one, every pie you love, that only this Granma makes.

Today there is a visit to Granma’s house. Everyone must come. There is food, again, but this time it is pie. This pie is all pies in one, every pie you love, that only this Granma makes.

  With only the tiniest sliver of sand available because of the rain on the blue tarp, a musical about vampires took flight. Each shovelful of sand dumped on the tarp and on the boulders, the song took on urgency. The vampires are in danger and they must rally to win the fight. Again children’s play rules govern the vampire musical. There is the barest bit of information available for the child about vampires as she shapes and imagines the song and story, but no matter, it sounds really really good. And there is the whole shovelful wet sand on the beat.

With only the tiniest sliver of sand available because of the rain on the blue tarp, a musical about vampires took flight. Each shovelful of sand dumped on the tarp and on the boulders, the song took on urgency. The vampires are in danger and they must rally to win the fight. Again children’s play rules govern the vampire musical. There is the barest bit of information available for the child about vampires as she shapes and imagines the song and story, but no matter, it sounds really really good. And there is the whole shovelful wet sand on the beat.