jolly jo is a harsh mistress

jolly jo's child care is down the street from my house. it lists over on a hill in midtown, servicing the low end of the income scale, people who need to leave their kids somewhere while they shuffle carts at publix. there is a pair of plastic "f-14 tomcat" bouncy seats in the yard, allowing the children to indulge in fantasies of shooting down early 90's iranian jets during the gulf war. there is also a punching bag. i have never seen any children there, but i imagine there are a number of very tough pre-schoolers that spend their days 'going to the mattresses' and sitting in the plastic jets making explosion sounds with their mouths as they fight to maintain america's interests in the middle east.

before the sun faded the paint on the playground equipment, before we all grew up, children played there while i made my own playdough at a church that saw 8,000 people on most sundays. this church has indoor playground equipment and an arsenal of slip-n-slides that were rolled out once a month to allow the middle class baptist kids of florida to enjoy themselves amidst the cacophony of bruised knees and hose water.

i think the kids is midtown needed the punching bags more than they needed air conditioning and regularly maintained play equipment. while i was listening to threats of "we can call your father" these kids were getting a head start education in the heartache of being alive. they took out their frustration on a punching bag, i ate my own playdough. and while no one ever hit me and i saw my father on a regular basis, they knew far more about life than i did. at that point i probably could not have handled the knowledge they were acquiring, but it makes me wonder exactly how much you can shelter a child before you start to harm him.

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