Mabel Watson Payne recently taught herself how to tease me – and used this new talent several times Friday afternoon while we followed our ritual pursuits at the Chinatown playground.
After we had put on her cardigan and were getting ready to leave, she talked me into a little more playing, and a little more. (The cardigan itself resonated unaccountably for me – until I realized it was the same one her mother had worn when she was Mabel's present age back in the 1970s.)
Beguilements of the baby sand table have remained powerful as ever. Looking back I see that we discovered this playground in the spring of 2011 and first took pictures of Mabel interacting with it here – when she was still at the scooting and crawling stage. The entire space had just been reopened by the benevolent officials of San Francisco after an obviously expensive renovation, and to us it seemed almost eerily pristine. It has deteriorated a good bit over the course of one year, but being slightly hard to find has probably spared it from worse trashing than it has so far suffered. Already though, we would never let this child go barefoot there, as briefly did seem safe, at first. Growing up in the city, she takes for granted a background of graffiti and sirens and tourists and beggars, while the people who look after her take for granted a great many daily precautions.