Last week, I waited outside the classroom in the unseasonably pleasant sunshine, waiting, waiting, parents bustling by, kids rambling to tired caregivers about the day and what the popsicle sticks and macaroni mean in their Dadaist masterpieces haphazardly glued onto faded, years-old construction paper. Breeze: light. Birds: chirping. Air: sweet.
And then my youngest child, the curly-haired lad, emerges from his classroom, eyes swollen and red, freckles blazing against cheeks tearstained and blotchy. Uh-oh.
On the subsequent walk home, I get the story: Kendon and his buddy, who we'll call Huck (because I just realized I should read Huck Finn to the kids this summer), well, they had a little scrap that started something like this. I shall paraphrase:
First, I smacked his tummy. But not hard. We were just waiting in line, and I smacked him like this. [Kendon pats my belly to show me how "gentle" he was.] Then he got mad and he sacked me. In the testicles. Like this. [Demonstrates on himself, only not really.] Then I smacked him back on the belly because it hurt my penis when he hit me, and then he punched me, like, five times in the gut and in the wiener. I got really mad and pushed him back, but the teacher saw us and pulled us aside.
My sweet boy got into his first schoolyard scuffle. In the middle of drama class (talk about timing!). And he handled it like a gentleman. By the sounds of it, both he and Huck showed that they're good men-in-training, through and through, despite the physical violence. Upon questioning their teacher the following day, she relates a conversation -- heard secondhand from the drama teacher present at the time of the smackdown -- that went something like this (I shall take creative license in the hope of maintaining your attention):
Teacher: Boys, what happened here?
Kendon: We got into a fight.
Teacher: Who hit first?
Kendon: I did. [Kendon starts crying.]
Teacher: Are you both okay?
Kendon / Huck: Yes. / Mm-hmm. / My penis hurts. / We're okay.
Teacher: [More uninteresting questions. Kendon cries harder.]
(Here comes the best part:)
Huck: Excuse me, but you're making my friend sad. Could you stop asking him questions because I don't like it when my friends are sad.
Even though these two little buggers were knocking the shit out of each other's parts, they stopped long enough to be sensitive to the fact that under it all, they're still friends.
If only the grown-ups would remember that just because you sack someone in the testes, it doesn't mean you can't share your Jell-O cup five minutes later. Because who doesn't like Jell-O????
Stop bitching at each other. Stop fighting. None of this matters in the bigger picture. THIS MEANS YOU. Yeah! I said it! You don't matter! None of us really do, unless we're curing cancer or digging wells for dying villages or figuring out a way to stop the sea levels from wiping out our cities. You do realize in the cosmic stuff that is us, our human lives account for an invisible fraction of the world's story?
Don't be a douche.
Stop pointing fingers.
Put your pitchfork away. Pitchforks are best used for stabbing hay (and zombies), so if you don't have a farm (or zombies), you don't need the pitchfork.
Or just watch this:
As these eight-year-old boys have demonstrated so aptly, we don't sweat the petty stuff, we pet the sweaty stuff.
Xs and Os, my lovelies ...