How lovely are thy branches

Yesterday was my volunteer day in Ane’s classroom. It was also the day that her class celebrated her birthday, which is something that she’s been looking forward to, oh, FOREVER. It’s the only time that we’re allowed to bring in a sugary snack (cookies or cupcakes or anything like that), and she got to wear a birthday crown and blow out the candles on the “cake” (the teachers have a styrofoam birthday cake that they insert candles into which is decorated with fabric scraps and other pretty things).

Between her birthday snack and my volunteering, I was in class nearly the whole day, which Ane wasn’t really pleased about. To her, school is her time away from me, and she has had issues in the past with me volunteering and hanging around. So I tried to stay out of her way, which is why I was at the Play-Doh table with one of the boys while Ane was busy bossing playing with some of the girls in the play kitchen.

The tub of Play-Doh was dark green with glitter in it, and I decided to build a 3-dimensional Christmas tree to keep myself busy. The little boy across the table from me watched with interest as I rolled out small circles and used the edge of a cookie cutter to make notches in the circles, and then stacked them up, getting smaller as I built. “That doesn’t look like anything,” he told me.

“Just wait,” I said. “You’ll see.”

When I was finally done, it was pretty cool, if I do say so myself. The little boy looked skeptical. “What is that supposed to be?” he asked me.

I flagged down Ane. “Honey, come and look what Mommy made,” I called.

She rushed over and her eyes went wide. “Oh, Mommy, that is a really cool Christmas tree!” Her friends were suitably impressed.

The little boy sitting across from me looked on in envy, then promptly gathered up all the Play-Doh on the table except what I had used. “I’m going to make a bigger one,” he announced.

The spirit of competition lives, even at preschool.

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