I'm waiting for my oldest daughter to finish band practice, and while I wait, I'm keeping an eye on my other two. Watching them play with a group of children who are also waiting for older siblings. There are about a dozen of them playing on old playground equipment in the process of being dismantled. It is fascinating watching them; clustering together, then scattering apart, like starlings. They climb in and out of an old tube slide. Rolling it with others inside. Constantly switching positions, going in and out, switching roles without visible communication, like ants. It looks mildly dangerous, but I fight off the maternal urge to go down and tell them to be careful. I would only ruin the beauty of their play, that strange tangled harmony of childhood.
A girl jumps out of the tube, her hair reaching well below her waist, flying around her like ribbons. She takes her turn with the other kids pushing, while shrieks emerge from the children still inside.
They dismantle, move, assemble, and take apart again. Their play is industrious and focused. So much more fun like this, with the equipment on the ground and loose. Much more fun than it was before when you could slide through the slide, and everything stayed in its place.