Sally and Jane came over to play. They tip out the basket of wooden blocks, made by a devoted great great uncle who cut and sanded each one by hand. They are silky and woody and click side by side in a pleasing way. Sally and Jane are emperors of the creative. They kneel and get to work, frowning, concentrated and direct. Max stands back, awed by the energy, drawn in, breathing hard, unable to join in with this much information confounding his eyes.
He wants to build, but so far in his toddler life, he has only participated in knocking things down, a powerful and passionate game that fills his mind and hands with cloudy and lovely detail.
But Sally and Jane have progressed beyond deconstructing to creating. Sally is making a wall and Jane, a robot. They talk to me at the same time. They tell me the local street gossip ( once when Jane fell from her bike, this other person just went past and did not help) and all the things happening at school. There is a boy who teases Jane and she must tell him that she does not like this. The sisters exchange significant looks. Apparently, the boy does not listen very well. To be in grade three and grade one is exhausting, there are always complex difficulties. Max sits on his heels and gazes at the faces of these little girls, he watches their eyes and their words and their lives.
He wants to knock down the wooden blocks.
Jane can see his baby desire coming true but she outranks it with a better idea. She offers him a treasure, a block from her stack, for him, to build. She says: here you go Maxy. Build it up, build it up.
Sally says, without looking up: give him more than that!
Jane says: don’t you worry about me Sally!
Sally says: well I know that my bike has a sore tyre.
Jane says: here you go, Maxy
And then Max is building. Building by himself, mouth open, breathing in the strength, dribbling ideas, stacking three bricks by himself, staring at this balance, at this outrage, at his new and accumulating evening.