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Overheard at a park:

Two boys, about 8 years old, maybe, are playing near by.
The first boy asks, “Hey, why isn’t Michael talking to me?”
“I dunno. He’s mad at you, I guess.”
The other boy shrugs.
The first boy says, “I mean, I didn’t do anything. I only called him a faggot.”
“What does that mean? Is that a bad word?”
“No. It doesn’t mean anything.”
The other boy looks at him doubtfully.
“It doesn’t mean anything!”

Kids are hurting each other with words they don’t even understand. I’m glad they’re too young to really understand the meaning most people ascribe to that word, but I’m bummed that kid not only heard it, and knew it was an insult of some kind, but then chose to pass the insult on while fighting with his friend.

~ ~ ~

Homer and I were playing by ourselves at another park one day, going from this cool little house area in the sand pit, to the big slides, then back to the sand area. As we passed a group of boys, I overheard them talking. Three boys were sitting, and one boy was standing. One of the sitting boys said to the boy standing, in a very snotty tone, “You can’t sit here with us. There isn’t enough room! You’re not even our friend, anyway!”

And before I knew it, the words came spilling out of my mouth before I’d even thought of what to say. “Hey! You need to be nice,” I said. “You can play together. It’s okay to make new friends!”

I don’t know if it’s the mom in me, the former field trip teacher, or being the “new kids” in town ourselves, but I just couldn’t let that go. And I’m glad, because after Homer and I walked away, I looked back, and all four boys were playing together.


~ ~ ~
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October 2014

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