The sun is shining, clouds are nearly non-existent, and the temperatures are finally reflecting something other than a cruel joke. It feels like spring and with it the sounds of children playing outdoors. At last! Even if this turns out to be just another false start (more snow forecast). So today when I picked up my son from preschool I was more than happy to let him play with his classmates on the nearby playground. It was a popular sentiment among the other parents as several kids remained for a few minutes of play. Hey, this warm spell could very well be the extent of our spring so enjoy it while you can.
Are you not playing nice with girls?
At one point a couple girls from my son’s class stomped away from the playground in mild displeasure with one of the boys. I do not know what happened but I do know this boy and he’s a lively one. Whippersnapper, I believe, was the favoured term back in the olden days. His mother asked the girls in a voice loud enough that her son could hear, “Was Colobert (not his real name but not made up either; it is Ancient Germanic and means ‘bright helmet’ which is just awesome) not playing nice with you girls?”
The girls shake their heads and she looks up to see the defiant Colobert (helmet radiating in the midday sun … sorry, couldn’t help myself) standing tall and proud at the top of the slide portion of the playground. She then directs her loud question to him directly, “Colobert, are you not playing nicely with the girls?”
No response. And so she asks again but this time before her full inquiry has left her mouth, Colobert retorts rebelliously, “I don’t even care!”
It was brilliant (much like his bright helmet … sorry, again, just so awesome). And all I could think was, “one day, you will. You will.” I felt like Yoda warning Luke that one day he will be afraid.
Then I had a small epiphany. Aha! Here, before me, was an important learning experience for my own son. This, THIS was one of those unique moments where being a stay-at-home dad would genuinely benefit my child should I grasp the opportunity.
Colobert’s actions had me harkening back to a similar experience from my own youth. It was Grade four, grant you, not preschool, so the parallels are perhaps a bit stretched but the lesson remains consistent. In Grade Four Schoneke (not her real name; it is Old German for ‘little beauty’ which isn’t funny like ‘bright helmet’ but works well with the narrative) had taken a liking to me. This was something new and frankly unwanted as far as I was concerned. Having girls maturing sooner than boys is Mother Nature’s ultimate prank on the male gender.
Schoneke’s desires for me took the form of chasing me all over the school grounds until captured, tackling me to the ground, and then kissing me. It was disgusting and I hated every minute of it. And this went on daily for weeks without end. Schoneke was a pretty blond girl (a ‘little beauty’ if you will) who, in retrospect, was easily the prettiest girl in my class in our small town elementary school; quite possibly one of, if not the prettiest girl in the whole school. She would remain thus until we graduated high school and though I haven’t seen her in 25 years I’m sure she’s just as lovely now as she was then but in a more, you know, womanly way.
Before Puberty Kicks In And Girls Stop Being Gross
Regardless, at whatever age I was in Grade Four, even the prettiest girl in school chasing me and kissing me was a veritable nightmare. I had to take a stand if I wanted it to stop. And so it was that I found myself on a lovely spring day not unlike today, straddling my bicycle looking down the four foot high grassy hill into the ditch I’d just pushed Schoneke off her bike into.
It wasn’t my proudest moment. Even then I recall sensing I’d done something I would regret. That I’d crossed a line I was too naïve to yet understand. It was much like what Colobert had boastfully done. I had not played nice with the girls. What would I have given to have had my father step in and warn me that I was about to do something that would haunt me for decades. Had I been warned that these kisses I hated so much would be the last kisses I would get from any female I didn’t call mom, grandma, or aunt for the next decade would I maybe have reconsidered my actions and let Schoneke remain at the top of that ditch hill?
So son, always, ALWAYS, play nice with girls. Because there will come a time when you desperately want them to play nice with you and they remember … they all remember.