March Bloom: “Caring for the Party People”

Many thanks to my grandchild’s daycare provider for inspiring this month’s Blooming Good flash fiction story titled “Caring for the Party People.” I dedicate this story to all childcare providers who nurture the young with enduring kindness, sharing, and social skills. 

"Caring for the Party People""

Rachel ran a home-based childcare in Washington DC that impressed an anonymous group of well-off donors impressed with her reputation for transforming feisty toddlers into fine adults. They paid her to create a pilot curriculum for grown-up party people in need of guidance on working together to benefit others.

On Tuesday, August 1 at 8:00AM, the first cohort, selected from a national pool of nominees, arrived at Rachel’s front door. They trampled each other to be the first inside. “I’m seeing big feelings here, no need for shoving. Can we use our patience skills please?” Rachel asked, and the party people settled down while she redirected them to assigned seats for a breakfast of orange juice, hot oatmeal, and homemade muffins. “I’m seeing grabbing here. Can we use our magic words please?” and they echoed a chorus of ‘May I and thank you.’

Rachel escorted her charges to the playroom she had retrofitted for the August pilot group with Monopoly and Pictionary, thinking these games promote both healthy competition and teamwork. But when shouting erupted and game board pieces flew, Rachel tamped the tempers. “I’m seeing disagreements flair; can we calm our feelings please?” and she marched everyone out the back door for fresh air.

Rachel pointed out the adult-sized playground equipment she’d leased for the month and they rushed across the yard. “I’m seeing shoving that needs to stop right now because it’s unsafe and unproductive. Instead, can we use our take turn skills please?” The group paused, gazed at one another, then slowly configured into lines for the swings, slides, and seesaws.

Before naptime, Rachel distributed stuffed animals and fuzzy blankets. Observing no disruptive incidents, she let them choose their own cots. During snack time, Rachel let them pass out pretzels and peanuts. She noted that each one ended up with an equal share. Then Rachel asked the party people to form a circle for the day’s last activity, story time. As she read excerpts from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, her charges sat in rapt attention without wriggling.

At dismissal, the grown-up party people lined up patiently to hug Rachel goodbye. She passed out mini gavels as gifts and each one thanked her using inside voices. They calmly took turns walking out the door, clasping their mini gavels without pounding a thing or each other. Rachel overheard them say, “that was fun. See you tomorrow, friend”