The Fence Wriggler
While coming back from the laundry room with a basket of freshly-cleaned clothes, I saw a bunch of kids playing outside. They’d obviously just gotten out of school because of all the energy they had in them.
One boy, probably between eight and ten, flitted across the sidewalk in front of me and approached the fence beside me. It’s an iron-bar fence that surrounds a pool area, and he’d found a place where the grass slopes ever so slightly away from the bars. He got down on the ground and stuck his head through, and then sighted me.
The look on his face told me he thought I was going to go tattle on his mom for trying to eek underneath a fence. “I don’t care, dude,” I told him. “I wanna watch you do this.” I’m not the parental unit or an authority associated with the apartment complex; I didn’t particularly care if he broke any sort of rules his mother gave him. He was obviously old enough to know that he wasn’t supposed to eek under the fence, but sometimes, kids like to break the rules as long as they’re pretty sure they won’t hurt themselves.
I stood there with my laundry as I watched him wriggle under the fence. He was on his belly, feeling the fence line go down his back. He paused when the fence got to his butt, then looked up at me. Was he gauging to see whether I’d help him get unstuck? Or whether I was still standing there, watching? Did he have a look of fear or hesitancy?
“Go, kid. Go,” I said. With one swift movement, he wriggled hardest and in one swift second, he was running circles on the lawn next to the pool. “All right! That’s awesome!” I said, full of admiration at his small skill. I walked on, stopping to itch my nose, almost dropping the basket I held.
As I walked back from my apartment to get the second load of laundry, I was struck by a case of worry. The kid was old enough to know that a pool cover could suffocate him if he stepped on it, right? I scanned the fenced area with mild concern, but nothing was wrong with the pool cover, and nothing else looked disturbed. No kids doing damage to property– the victory lap was all he needed before he let himself out through the gate.
Still, I will never look at that spot of fence without an air of admiration. It’s such a small gap, and I remember trying dumb stuff, just to see if I could do it. This kid did it; that really was admirable.