At Naomi Rivka's math class today, the teacher had two big bags of different-coloured homemade play dough: one blue, one green.
She plopped the bags on the table, turned to me, and asked, "would you mind dividing them into balls for each of the children?"
"Um, actually, I can't. I have a terrible aversion to homemade play doh."
It's true! The stuff is so salty and floury, it totally sucks the life out of your hands.
And anyway, she said, "Oh. So do I."
She picked another pair of mamas to do it (why do the Filipina ones always seem more helpful, cheerful and less hung-up? There must be a Filipina mama somewhere who hates play doh, no?) and the kids got their doh.
Awful stuff it was, too. The teacher admitted she should have let it air-dry longer because it was basically still a gooey liquid. It stuck to the table and everything else and there was a mass handwashing exodus the minute she announced that the exercise was over (they were molding things that were BIG, BIGGER, BIGGEST, SMALL, SMALLER, SMALLEST, THIN, THINNER, THINNEST, etc). Everyone cringed when she said we could take the doh home with us... she'd even brought little baggies to scrape it into. I sure felt sorry for her at that moment, sending us home with that crud.
I have no problem handling real Play Doh, by the way (and doesn't that smell bring back memories...???). Maybe what they put into that is more chemically and less wholesome, but my fingers don't mind!
It's funny, because although I can't touch flour or anything powdery (okay, without seriously, nails-scraping-down-the-blackboard cringing), I love handling a well-behaved bread dough. Living doughs are totally different: elastic, sleek, more like Silly Putty than Play Doh.
Tactful racial but not racist commentary:
Despite the fact that the class is held at our library, at the heart of what I'd call an extremely black neighbourhood, the class contains exactly two black kids who come with their Filipina nanny. Most of the kids are Filipino and/or unknown-Asian-origin, one just-off-the-plane Chinese kid who seems so lost in this new English-speaking world, and two white girls, including Naomi Rivka.
I sure hope it's not racist to notice the ethnic composition of a group like this. I'm just saying.