Tag Archives: Malleable Spaces

The De-Constructors

There are moments of clarity:


Following snack on Friday I sat down to construct. Soon there were five boys sitting around myself and the blocks. I began simply with an idea to build. A boy asked, “What are you building?” Stacking another block I replied, “I’m not sure yet. I’m just building.” “Well, it looks like a house. Can I put this here and add another room?” “Sure thing. Please do.”

Another boy reached an arm over and dropped a block on top of the building. The building toppled but rather than let anyone get frustrated I suggested, “Looks like we need some reinforcements on that end of the house…” And then they were off. I heard the words “pirates” and “cannon” mentioned and figured that the house had metamorphosed into a pirate hideaway. I pulled over a blue cape and draped it on the floor like the surface of a body of water. “Hey guys, this looks like an ocean or a river…”

Soon there were boats on the ocean, the pirate hideaway was then transformed into a Pirate Boat, and the three other younger and less experienced boys were making additions and watching the narrative unfold before their eyes.

Now it must be said that these two older boys are usually of a de-constructive nature, granted I don’t see them too often, but as I usually see them, they are more apt to stomp and growl and knock over a building project or smash around as warriors in a carefully arranged china shop than be a part of constructing. They are exuberant boisterous boys. Rarely slow and concentrated.

So to be so close to their carefully constructed storyline was simply awesome.  There was a quiet hum of activity where I caught myself thinking, “Wow this is fantastic!”

I turned to see how the younger boys were doing.


Then there is the accompanying chaos…


From behind me, CRASH! Crumble, tumble, shove .

“Hahaha! The pirates are back!”

And the boys were off. Howling, laughing and leaving nothing standing.

Beechtree Punk

My eardrums are still ringing.

It happened Tuesday afternoon. From afar I noticed some boys organizing themselves in a suspiciously quiet manner. Soon I saw chairs disappearing from under the pushchair shed to be relocated in neatly ordered rows over by the Play House. Sure enough, no more than three minutes later three children were offering tickets to the concert. Tickets came in the form of green leaves; they were in high demand, but all of us who weren’t involved in the band managed to get ourselves a ticket.

The band members scattered.

As we leisurely ambled over, the band members prepared. I heard hushed directions, some last minute shuffling of stage props, and when we were seated under the chestnut tree in front of the Play House, the band was standing above us on the tabletops air guitars at the ready.

I called out, “What’s the name of your band?”

One of the boys thought for a minute then called back, “The Band!”

What an opener! I have never heard “We will rock you” sung with such precision or such animation. The children were red in the face with exertion, rocking, leaping, performing.

After a while, and coinciding with the arrival of parents, the concert harmonies again drifted into birdsong and I found myself thinking of last year’s band, of the cyclical nature of life and learning, and of the beauty of improvised music. What I had seen on stage wasn’t soothing to the ears, it wasn’t well rehearsed or choreographed either, but it was fascinatingly beautiful to see how well the three boys worked together. Until this point in the year I hadn’t even seen the three of them playing together, but here they were collaborating, harmonizing (sort of), and responding to each other.

The beauty of punk.

The creative genius of play.