Three Marbles

“We are looking for the treasure the fairies left for us!” explains an enthusiastic boy from under a bush while his playmate with soft blonde curls carefully opens her fist to show me the bright, colorful treasure of marbles they’ve discovered in the little green patch behind San Francisco’s Presidio branch library. The library won’t open for another hour and since I have time to kill and a three year old to entertain I venture to the back of the library where we run into this little preschool class of active four and five year olds, enchanted with finding fairy treasures. As the group of little treasure seekers crawl under trees, climb branches and comb their fingers through the little patch of grass looking for fairy treasure, their seasoned teacher encourages them, shares their exuberance at any find and goes about covertly dropping more treasure along the way.
My three year old was hesitant to join the group of strangers at first, but as shrieks of joy exploded when someone did find a “fairy treasure”, my little guy’s curiosity won. While staying close to mom, he looks for his own treasures. At the end of the hunt, each child has a collection of colorful marbles and my own little guy has three! As the treasure seekers wind up to go back to their indoor classroom, it was just me, my little guy and his three marbles left on this little patch of green. This is when I realized that I have been given a challenge- to entertain my three year old without a park or play structure, without games, toys, books or electronics, without friends or play buddies and without his usual three entertainers around! My older kids were out with their uncle and my little one was with – just me.
It’s amazing how I had become dependent on devices and descendants to entertain and teach and this hour before the library opened forced me reconnect with my own creativity. Sometimes our park days, playdates, circle times and storytimes get so routinized and so well planned that there is little room for creativity or impulsivity. A break from the regular implores us to think of ways to get creative and do things differently. That’s when three marbles conjured up uncountable games. Three marbles lent themselves to a game of marble soccer, marble bowling, marble hide and seek, marble rolling, marble carrom, game of colors and a host of others! It wasn’t how many games I could think up that impressed me, but how well my three year old adapted to them and enjoyed them that did. Moms of many will tell you that it is easy to dismiss our little ones as the “baby” and never challenge them enough, only because we get so caught up with the older ones and their challenges (which I must say are more pressing), but this little bit of time with my little boy reminded me of the beauty and simplicity of a three year old’s company. His enthusiasm and his excitement with every little game and his readiness to try everything that mom thought of, including making and wearing a daisy chain and a daisy watch was refreshing!
Perhaps the three marbles reminded me to reconnect with my baby who seems lost in the shuffle of older siblings, or perhaps they helped me reminisce the quiet times when our phones and electronic devices did not entertain us while we waited or perhaps it just gave me some time to diffuse while sitting on a lawn of green, but whatever the lesson, the hour was well spent and I actually felt a little sad when the library opened its doors and we had to go in.