When Sean was about two, I bought him one of those kindergarten mats at Walmart. I’m sure you know the kind I’m talking about: plastic, red on one side and blue on the other, folds into fours. If you are like me, you probably had one yourself when you were in kindergarten. And that is exactly the reason I bought it — because I had one. Nostalgia, pure and simple. That and impulse.
Be that as it may, we have had that mat for three years now and so far it has not once been used as mat upon which to nap.
The first year we had it, the mat was a ticket booth. Sean would set it on its edge into a square. He would then stand inside the square and alternately take and sell invisible tickets, just like a little scalper. Over the course of any afternoon I would buy and redeem hundreds of tickets. I was a loyal and enthusiastic customer.
The next year, the mat was a boat. He would lay it out on the breakfast room floor and spend hours outfitting it and laying in supplies for the journey – a tiny lawn chair with a built-in umbrella, Goldfish, sippy cup of milk, matchbox cars, plastic animals, books — you know, all the seafaring necessities. And then he and I would set sail for far away places.
This year the kindergarten mat is a surf board. He puts it on top of the coffee table and hangs ten. I stand on the back and shoo the sharks away.
And now, this school year is about to come to a close. In September he will start kindergarten.
And maybe then, the kindergarten mat will be a kindergarten mat.