I was sitting on the couch, thumbing through a book. The children were gathered around the dining room table making signs to decorate the new fort they had built with pillows and blankets in the rec room. A voice called out to me.
“V!” it said, “Can you help us spell some words for our sign?”
“Sure, what do you need spelled?”
“C – H –I- L- D – R –E-N.”
It finally occurred to me what they were doing, so I set my book aside and went to go talk to them.
“Hey, you guys?” I asked, “Does your sign say, ‘No Children Under Five Allowed?'” I looked pointedly at the lone 4 year old at the table, who sat happily coloring with the group oblivious to the fact that she was about to be rejected.
“Is Chloe being mean or something?” I asked.
They shook their heads in the negative.
“Does Chloe ever refuse to share with you?”
“So why would you want to exclude her?”
They stared at the floor silently, suddenly embarrassed, and not sure how to answer my question. But it didn’t matter; I knew what they were thinking. After all, a fort isn’t any fun unless you’re keeping someone out.
I chewed my lip for a moment as I struggled to come up with the best way to handle the situation with minimal heartbreak or tears. Then I said:
“Listen guys, it’s your fort and I’m not going to tell you what to do with it. I’m not going to be mad at you or punish you if you want to keep Chloe out. But, before you make your final decision, can you just think about three things for me?”
The children nodded happily, perked up by my claims that I had not come to ruin their fun.
“OK, good,” I continued, “The first thing I want you to think about is how you would feel if you were the only one not allowed in the fort.”
The children crinkled their noses distastefully at the idea.
“After you’re done thinking about that, I want you to ask yourselves, ‘would a nice kid exclude another kid from the fort or would a mean kid do something like that?'”
The children started fidgeting uncomfortably.
“And the last thing I want you to think about is what kind of kid you want to be. A nice kid? Or a mean kid? Will you think about that stuff for me?”
“Ok V,” they muttered quietly.
“Thanks guys. I’m going to finish reading my book now. If you need anything else, let me know.”
I plopped back on the couch and immersed myself in the text. A couple of paragraphs later, I got another call from the dining room.
“V! How do you spell ‘zero’?”
“What about ‘allowed’?”
Curious, I set my book aside and made my way back into the dining room.
“We threw our old sign away,” the children enthusiastically proclaimed, “But we’re making a new one!”
“Can I see it?”
The oldest girl held up a sign written in red magic marker. It said, “No Children under zero.”
I suppose it was a bit hypocritical of me not to chide them for making their new sign. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wouldn’t want any fucking babies in my fort, either.
- Not That Pretty
- Brilliant Marketing
- I Was Not Born to Entertain You
- A Racially Charged Baseball Game
- Picture Perfect Parenting