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Fiction Friendship Kids

From the time we are born, even minutes old, we start learning to please someone. We are unaware of our surroundings. We feel heat, cold, and we hear loud sounds. Crying and screaming are our only means of communication. We know nothing about love or how to please someone into feeding us or keeping us warm. That warmth and the feeling of belonging is a feeling we spend a lifetime trying to recapture.

I think I was an hour old when my mother put me in that trash can. Within minutes my big brother's tiny hands pulled me out. I cried and he held me close to his chest as he took me to a neighbor's house.

My mother would have a total of five children before the state took us away. The orphanage was full of kids, like the five of us, who were trying to please someone else. We all wanted to belong. We all wanted to be loved. All living creatures seek that sense of belonging.

My sister and I were very fortunate when we were adopted by two wonderful people. However, learning to belong still presented me with challenges. My grandmother was my closest friend. I guess you could say were kindred spirits. I had no doubt about her love for me and she had no doubt about my love for her. Sometimes, even then, I had to pick out a switch and get a wack on the bottom to get through my stubbornness. Sometimes my logic was not exactly accurate.

I also remember my grandmother telling me the only person I ever really had to please was myself. I had to believe in myself or no one else would. Then she added it might be a good idea to please the person who cooks your meals. We both giggled on that one because she was a good cook and knew all my favorites. Once a little boy she was babysitting started making fun of me. He was surprised when I looked at him and apologized. I said "I am so sorry. I do not know how you got the idea I cared about what you think." I then skipped away and left him there trying to figure out what to do with the mud pies I had prepared so carefully. Maybe it had something to do with being a little boy. He came in for lunch with mud on his face. He was trying to tattle to my grandmother that I had fed him mud pies. I instantly jumped up and yelled, "You ate my bug pies? I made those with flies for the frogs and lizards in the yard. Now, I have to make them all over again." I think that is the day he decided not to eat lunch. My grandmother got a chuckle out of it. I know she did because I overheard her telling Aunt Lilly about it on the phone.

I was reminded of this incident just last week. Becky, the little girl who lives here on the Funny Farm with me and Barbra, my caretaker. Betty, Becky's mother, manages the house and Barbra manages the farm. It has worked out well for all of us. Betty and Becky are both little people. Becky had a birthday recently and I gave her Sidekick, a miniature horse for her very own. She and Sidekick walk together and even ride together since we had the saddle made. Betty was concerned that Becky was not learning how to get along with other children. Since they had come to stay with me there was no need for her to go to daycare anymore.

I had the brilliant idea of going to talk to the school board and find out if any of the teachers would like to one, recommend a school for Becky to start in the fall and, two, one that would enjoy coming to the farm for a day of picnics and fun. My grandmother always said breaking bread with others is the best way to get to know them. I have learned over the years that sometimes, like diamonds, brilliant ideas need to have some careful cutting and polishing done before the shine or sparkle shows. They are call facets.

We had two kindergarten groups coming for the day. We worked very hard to make sure every safety issue was handled. We actually put a gate across the tree that stretches out over the pond. We did not need anyone falling into the pond. I knew if anyone saw how it works like a ramp they would be tempted, just like me, to walk up the trunk. Everyone turns at the same time to overlook the area and slips right into the pond. The gate kept that from happening.

Things were going along wonderfully. The parents were having as much fun as the children. Becky seemed to be getting along wonderfully with everyone. No one seemed to be upset over Becky and Betty being little people. All the animals were helping take care of entertaining the children. Tarzan, the African grey parrot was singing, Oscar and Grammy (the pet squirrels) were chatting away. Even Loverboy and Mrs. Holcomb (his mate) were spitting at bull's eye targets. We had worked for weeks on that one. When you have two llamas who hate anyone in uniform, especially men, you have to make adjustments.

We had stretched out several bedspreads as picnic blankets. We had even finished with the third picnic table just in time. Barbra was so talented. She turned out to be a very good carpenter. She was really great at managing the farm. Breaking bread would be easier on everyone if it was done casually. I knew we could accommodate the two groups we expected.

The party had been going on for about an hour. We had hamburgers, fried chicken, and hot dogs. French fries, mac and cheese, and a veggie medley worked as side dishes. We had chocolate cream pie, blueberry pie, and apple pies for desserts. We even had homemade ice cream (vanilla) to top off anything. Then the party took on a whole new tone.

There was a small group, a third group of party crashers. This group decided they needed to explain some things to the rest of us. There seemed to be three sets of parents within the group. Each one had children who had started having problems with the other kids. The oldest of the little boys was six. He seemed to think it was funny to take the other kids' plates and turn them over in the dirt. He then stepped on their foot. He laughed at them and created nicknames for each one he encountered. The situation came to a head when Becky came crying to me. It was apparent that she had been pushed down because she was all skinned up and had dirt all over the front of her shirt and jeans. "Help us, Jane, help us. We have some mean kids here."

I looked in the direction from which Becky had run and saw a little boy kick another little girl in the back. There did not seem to be a reason. Then I watched over the grown-ups to see if I could determine to which set of parents he belonged. I realized what was happening. Three men and three women seemed to actually three couples who had one child each at the party. The two little girls were being cruel to the animals and hitting everyone else with sticks.

"Why does he not like me? I gave him my lunch like he asked me to. I even told him I was sorry I got in his way when he pushed me down. Why, Ms. Jane?"

"Becky, do you like yourself?" She wiped her tears away.

"Yeah. Then that is all that matters. You are the one you have to please, not him. Why would you care what he thinks? He is not important to you. What you think of yourself is the most important. Remember that as long as you like yourself when it is over... you are all right."

I gathered a few of the other parents along with two teachers. It seemed that these parents or at least two of the men and one of the women were also new teachers that were going to start in the new school year. I had the other parents start watching to make sure the other kids did not get hurt.

I excused myself and went inside and call the friend I had on the school board. I told her she would need to call another member of the board because they were needed and to come immediately as my guest. I knew she lives about two miles away and it would not take long for her to get here.

I whispered to leaders of the two invited groups told them that the thing we needed was a wake-up call for these people. They have been in the dark so long they can't see the light. Remember the golden rule I think it is time to put it into action. What I did not know is that Becky had heard every word I said about our plans to save the picnic.

Mrs. Baxster showed up in record time. Two more board members followed soon after. I pointed out the children and then the parents. She watched for a few minutes. She whispered to her colleges. I also told her about the golden rule idea. Brilliant? Maybe.

I clapped my hands and yelled for everyone to come to the bank of the pond where the area had been cleared to make room for everyone. "Grab your deserts and meander right this way." I pointed as people started strolling towards the pond. When we got there I unlocked the gate on the tree that stretched out over the pond. I stood there, holding onto the gate, and started to speak...

"Lady, we don't need to hear a lecture." The man is the one who had been pointed out as one of the new teachers. "We only came out today to find out what kind of brats we would have to put up with when school starts. I tell you what, why don't you come on down and let me address this group of know-nothings." The man was surprised when I smiled and stepped aside to let him go up a little higher on the tree.

He had fallen in the pond by the time I got to the base of the tree. His son started to run straight to his dad when Becky came riding up on Sidekick. Sidekick had been rescued from the circus where he had carried water buckets for the clowns. Becky took the bucket from Sidekick. She just poured the whole bucket over the little boy. The others in the crasher's group started trying to help the man who was now screaming in the pond for someone to get him out. We all knew the root from the tree was under the water. The group of would-be party crashers got hit with blueberry pie, apple pie, and even a cart of barn scrappings from when the barn was mucked out. I would call that breaking bread the hard way. I knew one thing the farm animals were going to have a blast cleaning up the mess. Hamstring, our pot-bellied pig will think he is in heaven.

I clapped my hands again. The man was still yelling. He was now cursing and calling the rest of us some very nasty names. My friend from the school board yelled over to him and told him to stand up. Then everyone told him to stand up. He did so. "Imagine that, all that hullabaloo over three feet of water."

He started to speak when my friend yelled for silence. "I want to make sure all three of you and your spouses understand what I am saying. You are fired. You will not be working in any school in this district. We have just had a meeting of the school board and you, sir have been voted off the island. I will also send my report on your conduct to every school board in Texas."

The man's wife started to speak when their little boy started crying about being wet. Becky walked up to the kid. "You are a lot like your father. You make a lot of noise about a little bit of water. We only did to you what you did to us. It is the golden rule. I was proud of Becky. She was a little person, six years old, eighteen inches high but she had mastered standing up for herself.

The man, now out of the pond and shaking water off himself, pointed his finger at me and said, "You want to know what I think?"

I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I am so sorry, I have no idea how you got the idea that I cared what you think. I do apologize for making you think that." Everyone laughed. Becky turned to the little boy and said, "I really do not care if I ever please you."

The party crashers started to their cars within minutes after Becky's statement got a round of applause. We were all settled in for more food and fun when Becky came out of the barn riding Loverboy. It was a surprise, to say the least. " Anyone for a little target practice?" Becky had a grin across her face. She and Loverboy galloped to the edge of the drive. Loverboy did one of his spitballs and it landed right on the back of the man's neck as he was getting into his car after Oscar had closed the gate behind them.

When she got back I started to ask...Becky looked at me and simply said, "Because it pleased me." We all laughed. I could tell I was going to have to fine-tune my lessons with Becky going forward.

One thing that was for sure she would never again lose her own self-worth while trying to please someone else. Another thing the day had taught me. We belong in this wonderful little community. Finding a place to belong is fundamental. It is natural to want to please someone we care about but the only one we really have to please is ourselves. How do you feel about yourself when it is all over?

Grandmother was right. Breaking bread with someone is the best way to get to know them.

June 29, 2021 19:20

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1 comment

Tricia Shulist
21:43 Jul 08, 2021

What goes around, comes around. That was a good story about “just deserts.” Thanks.


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