Monday, October 15, 2007

Little Zax Playing at the Mall

The boys live nearby an open-air shopping mall with a small playground at the center, the better to occupy the children who, almost invariably, cavort unattended by their parents. The parents instead shop at the nearby stores, creating for themselves a little bubble of probable deniability should they hear screams of havoc issuing from the outdoors. Lest we become too critical, though, let me say that this kind of parenting does become more attractive the longer we have children, if only to go through a store once without yelps for the bathroom, attempts at grabbing $300 sweaters with grubby hands, and whimpers for trains. (It's for this same reason that as a parent, I now understand why my dad needed a beer or two to unwind in the evening when we were all kids. Previously I suspected Dad had a mild case of alcohol dependence, but now I appreciate it was a coping mechanism.)

But I digress. During yesterday's visit to the mall, Helios and Hesperos capered about with the rest of them, wildly enthusiastic at their little outdoor excursion. Hesperos increased his walking experience ten-fold by holding hands with Helios and Daddy, striding with bumpy steps around the perimeter, and Helios was able to literally climb the walls, which is an appropriate activity for a child of his energy levels.

For the first part of their playtime, the boys played separately. Then, they learned the delight of playing together, doing the same thing at the same time, but opposite. It reminded us of Dr. Seuss's North- and South-Going Zax, but without the acrimony, since both boys were very willing to pass to the side for the other. That isn't to say that the two boys always get along this well (and certainly stubbornness is a family trait on both sides of the genetic tree), but at least this time, the boys were willing to compromise (no doubt a quality learned from Mommy!).

The Zax, by Dr. Seuss

One day, making tracks
In the prairie of Prax,
Came a North-Going Zax
And a South-Going Zax.

And it happened that both of them came to a place
Where they bumped. There they stood.
Foot to foot. Face to face.

"Look here, now!" the North-Going Zax said, "I say!
You are blocking my path. You are right in my way.
I'm a North-Going Zax and I always go north.
Get out of my way, now, and let me go forth!"

"Who's in whose way?" snapped the South-Going Zax.
"I always go south, making south-going tracks.
So you're in MY way! And I ask you to move
And let me go south in my south-going groove."

Then the North-Going Zax puffed his chest up with pride.
"I never," he said, "take a step to one side.
And I'll prove to you that I won't change my ways
If I have to keep standing here fifty-nine days!"

"And I'll prove to YOU," yelled the South-Going Zax,
"That I can stand here in the prairie of Prax
For fifty-nine years! For I live by a rule
That I learned as a boy back in South-Going School.
Never budge! That's my rule. Never budge in the least!
Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east!
I'll stay here, not budging! I can and I will
If it makes you and me and the whole world stand still!"

Of course the world didn't stand still. The world grew.
In a couple of years, the new highway came through
And they built it right over those two stubborn Zax
And left them there, standing un-budged in their tracks.

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