He is the only student wearing a bucket on his head.
The Tumbling Toddlers teacher, Sergei, nods, bites his lip and says, “Ross, if the bucket defines you, you keep.”
His mother talks to the other parents, “You should see him lounge in the big vat of balls, you’d think he’s Hugh Hefner in a bubble bath.”
It is a yellow bucket, normally used to collect the spongy balls. Ross can see through the slits just about everything if he holds his head just right. If he pinches the rim with the back of his head, he can look up at the other Moms and Dads and at his mother who is saying, “He walked at nine months. He just ran right out the gate.”
Sergei attempts to line up the children, “Little feet on blue,” but they bumble about.
Ross looks for the blue and hears his mother, “He still hasn’t said a word.”
Ross is the only one on the blue, yellow bucket on head, red elephant shirt on body, hands grasping for the rope swing. On his toes, he reaches the rope, hangs his body while his mother claps.
The teacher says, “Strong boy your Ross.”
Ross dangles his feet, kicks his happy, kicky feet as his mother calls them.
“He has muscle,” Sergei says. “Must be magic yellow hat.”
Ross arches his chest and his legs sway. He swings one up on the bar.
“Rossie, be careful! Look at him.”
“He’s what you call born to this.” Sergei moves underneath and holds his arms out in case of a fall. “First class. So strong!”
Through the slits in the bucket, Ross notices how the parents and Sergei all watch.
His mother is talking. She is always talking.
It’s not the hat, he wants to say. He swings up the other leg and shakes the bucket backward off his head, still clinging, rocking his body, miles above the mat.