I took my dog for a walk on a quiet street today and came to a fenced yard that corralled three rambunctious children. As soon as I came into view, the three blitzed me with questions and “watch this’s.” They reminded me of baby birds clamoring for worm-gooey from their momma.
A pie-faced little girl in a flowery sweatshirt and tan leggings galloped over to the fence like a horse wanting a sugar cube. She had long blond hair wrapped in a black nun-like veil similar to ones I’ve seen on immigrant Russian women in rural Aurora. She climbed on the bottom rung of the fence and hollered, without taking a breath, “I don’t live at this house, I’m having a play date, I live down the street, I get school at home because of the corona, I like your little dog, I’m five and a half, how old are you?”
At the same time, two skinny boys on the side-yard jungle-gym just behind her shouted like an unholy, discordant back-up choir. “Watch this. Now watch. I have superhero pajamas on. I’m a superhero pajama man. Watch me do this. See, I can climb up here all by myself. Watch now. Watch and I’ll swing. Look at me, I’m swinging. I’m swinging. I’m Superhero Pajama Man.”
I was about the legal social-distance away – six feet – and had stopped walking to give them my full attention, but all three still shouted.
“How old are you,” the girl said again, completely ignoring the bellowing behind her. With typical kid etiquette, she’d given me her age and wanted to know mine.
The boy called out, “I’m six and a half. So is he.” He pointed to the boy beside him, dangling from the other trapeze rings.
“How old are you?” the girl persisted. She was still on the bottom rung of the fence, squirming and wiggling, bending knees, stretching toes.
“I’m pretty old,” I said. I didn’t want, who knows why, to reveal my age.
“We have the same birthday. November 7th,” Superhero Pajama Man said.
“Are you twins?” I called out. They didn’t even look like brothers, much less twins. The quieter one was small with blonde hair; Superhero had dark hair.
“Yes,” they sang out simultaneously, “We’re twins!”
“That’s pretty cool,” I said but don’t think they heard me. They never stopped chirping. The only thing I could hear was, “How old are you?” from the little girl.
“Pretty old,” I said.
“My grandmother is 73.”
“I’m not quite that old.”
“How old are you?”
I finally divulged my age, and she said, “Oh, you are way younger than my grandmother.” Not really. But in these days of staying home, not bothering to put on make up and cutting my own hair, I took it as a compliment.
“Watch this,” Superhero called. He hung on the bars and pulled himself up like he’d been doing the entire time.
“Amazing,” I said with gusto because I figured that would make him happy. I started to leave and told them goodbye. “Watch this,” both boys begged.
“When is your birthday?” the girl said.
I laughed. “I bet you all miss school, don’t you?”
“We’re going to school across the street,” Superhero said. He pointed to a house at the end of a long drive.
“That must be interesting,” I said.
“Because of the corona,” the girl said. “How old is your dog?”
“She’s 19. That’s over 100 in people years.”
“Wow,” came the chorus.
I started inching away. “I have to go now. Have fun!”
“I wish you were little like us and could come in and play with us,” the girl said.
I laughed and said “me too.” And I meant it.