1 September 2007...3:08 pm

Your Being, Watched

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In the East Village, there’s a preschool called “Children’s Liberation.”

I lack just about any maternal impulse, and I am also consciously in favor of youth empowerment, but I do not think that “liberation” is ever something I will want for my toddler, especially on the block of 1st Avenue below East 9th Street.

The things I would like for my child are love, encouragement, peanut butter on pretzels, and, well, supervision. For this reason, I have concluded that the scrap metal place on South 4th and Kent would be an ideal childcare center. It has posted a large sign outside that announces “Your Being Watched.” My being! Watched! That would be great. I would send my wee Eleanor-being (no maternal impulses, but lots of interest in names) to preschool at the scrap metal factory and there she would be watched. A slight sign revision might be necessary, for clarity’s sake: Your Being, Watched.

I taught preschool, actually, at the Mount Hope YMCA in Providence. I was in charge of the toddler room, and one of my favorite students was a two-year-old named Harper. He wore green Wellies with frog faces when he was feeling cooperative. When he was not feeling so cooperative, he wore his older sisters’ sun-dresses. His father was a commercial airline pilot, and his mother was beautiful and always kind of coming apart at the edges.

Harper liked to stay close to me, perhaps because I was the only adult in his life who told him he looked really great in sun-dresses. Late one afternoon, Harper and I were standing outside near the swings–actually, I was standing, and he was sitting on my right hip–talking to the mother of Abby, a pre-k student. The swings were always of much interest to my students, because they were tiny, and didn’t really have the balance or the large muscle control to propel themselves; they needed to be pushed.

Abby was on the swings, and Harper had been quiet for awhile, studying her. During a pause in the conversation, he whispered “Emma,” and then pointed at Abby. “She has good legs.”

This was a hilarious observation to me and to Abby’s mother, because adult humans find it hilarious whenever lesser beings act in ways that inadvertently mimic us. For example, I crack up when French people say the word “sausage,” because they pronounce it “sauuu-sage.”

Below is a picture I made. It’s about Harper, and my imaginary scrap metal daycare, and also, as it happens, pedophilia. (Long ago, David suggested that I call this blog “Inadvertent Pedophilia.” This picture is probably for David).


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