Kids We Love: Late Nights with Mason and Elwood
Buddings Daycare closes at 6pm but, as families who use the later hours know, things tend to wind down after Big Kids Club ends at 4pm.
Mason and Elwood are two of my regular 4 – 6pm window kids, and when I say “my,” it’s because since Buddings opened, the late-nights have always been my shift. Back then, it was because the teacher (singular) left at 4pm.
Now, we have a great staff of daycare educators (5 of them), and Sarah, who’s really taking the reins on managing the floor, families, and staff. But while I have more time to put in at my desk, by 4pm, my ability to concentrate on administrative tasks is shot, and the teachers are definitely ready for a break from the action. It’s my turn to play with the kids.
We’re usually down to 3 or maybe 5 kids at most, but there are lots of nights when it’s just the two, or three of us – including me.
The late-night kids help me give Benson a bath, when he needs it, they know about taking out the garbage and recycle, and we have little off-menu snack parties. By 5pm, we’re all a little peckish. A piece of raisin toast with butter in front of all three of us, we read Go Train Go, and sing songs, and they tell me about their day.
Neither of them are big talkers, to be honest, but they have both always been so expressive, and since it’s so often just them and me, I have all my attention to give.
And I am amazed, fully amazed, with the ways they have made me understand.
For weeks and weeks, when Elwood was younger, he and I would set up the bench in the front room, and he would pack suitcases, and picnic baskets, and handbags, and shopping carts, with all the stuff he would need, and we would board the train (he was the conductor), and ride it to… the North Pole. We wore scarves, and sometimes a life vest, jackets, and sometimes goggles, and we would visit Santa at his house – in the paint cabinet. He was never home. Though we knocked and knocked.
We played endless variations on the game, and Elwood’s interest in driving that train pulled us through many a quiet night.
Mason, on the other hand, has very little interest in imagination games. He loves body movement and dance, climbing, jumping, and knocking over towers. Stacking them up, in the first place, too… to an extent… but mostly knocking them over.
Mason uses his finger to direct my attention to the areas he find most interesting. He makes sure I’m watching as he climbs over the end of the bench, and when sees that I’ve seen, he jumps to the ground. I stifle a wince when I think he’ll lose his balance, and give him my sincerest applause when he recovers his landing.
Mason thinks Elwood is the coolest (me too, actually), and he loves to follow him around, even though he doesn’t always understand the game. Elwood is going to be 5 soon, though, so 2-year-old Mason sees a lot to look up to. And Elwood has always been so thoughtful. He’s patient with the little kids, and he’s quiet and compassionate. When Mason’s mom comes to pick him up, it’s Elwood who remembers that Mason’s precious Abby doll is lying in the lentil table.
And when Elwood’s dad comes in a few minutes later, Mason and I pretend we don’t know where Elwood is hiding. These are our little late-night society rituals. And then we close up shop for the night.