July 11, 1994- Foundry parking lot, Orem: Just took Dani to her day care at Jill's. I've had her at the foundry with me this morning modeling for a sculpture of a little girl stepping forward with one toe.
Hard to have kids model for any length of time - maybe that's why I haven't worked directly with them very much over the years. No need attempting the impossible. Best not to have them hold a pose. They freeze up and the posture becomes unnatural.I got her a small wire figure to put clay on and that occupied her for awhile. Then I could just study her at will - especially facial details and the way the folds of her jumper bent whenever she moved through a semblance of the gesture in the sculpture.
Later, when I dropped her off at Jill's, there were about a million kids on the lawn.
West of Jill's duplex, Gussie, the elderly lady who lives next door, was winding up a lawn hose, and Penny's daughter, Lacey, was helping her, so to speak. I wondered if living here in a neighborhood with so many kids was difficult for someone her age.
"You got enough kids around here?" I asked.
She waved her hand downward in a gesture of, "Oh brother, are you kidding?" "Awk," she says, and with a subtle Yiddish tone - "You go in the bedroom and you hear them outside. You go in the front room and it's the same."
She put her arm around Lacey and a couple of other kids came up to her as well. I could tell that though it is a stress, she likes the kids, and that they like her.
Then I thought about Jill, who has her day care on the other side of the complex. She's a different sort, so easygoing that the kids don't seem to frazzle her at all.
On the contrary, she seems to thrive on the craziness, which is hard to imagine.
But she is going to get a break, Gussie says with a smile. She's taking a vacation soon to visit her son and his children in Puerto Rico.
"I want to see them just one more time before I die," she says with a smile. "Just once, that's all I ask."
I picture Jill again, in her duplex next door with a kid under each arm and a couple more at her feet - and how good she is with them. There's a certain chemistry between her and children that would drive most people up a tree.
It's good we're all different. People like Jill are a real blessing, especially in a time when the pressures of struggling families and working mothers make day care such a necessity.
Nurturers have gotten such a bad rap the past few years. With so much focus on professionalism among women, the caretaking or mothering instinct of many women is too often looked on as being "less than," which couldn't be further from the truth.
The qualities that make Jill so marvelous are all too absent in both women and men. I guess I feel this so much right now because I've just spent an hour with Dani at the foundry, trying to be patient whenever she kept reaching over to "help me" with my sculpture, oblivious that she was attacking areas already finished and indignant whenever I tried to tell her not to touch.
How do you guide 4-year-olds into positive spaces without giving them the impression they are doing something wrong? The potential for nagging is always at hand - the "don't do this" and the "don't touch that."
It's a wonder any of us make it into adulthood intact.
In the meantime, Jill, in her crowded duplex, provides a service for her clients, which, though many are barely able to afford it, is still more valuable than is ever charged when it is done as right as she seems to do it.