I made the assertion a few days back that I generally preferred children to grown ups when it comes to personal interaction. Admittedly, I made this assertion to myself as I was riding home from school after a long day's attention to the details of those juvenile interactions. There are so many ways that I am grateful that I have my own reality filtered through the minds of five to eleven year olds.
Their lack of guile never ceases to surprise me. Kids run hot and cold, sometimes within minutes of one another. The bitter hatred one might hold for his or her classmate can vanish in an instant, like the change in the wind. This is also true in the opposite direction, since smooth sailing can be derailed by the smallest slight.
"She said she didn't want to be my friend anymore," come the sobs.
My adult assumption is that everyone would be better off being friends with everyone else, but I tend to enter into the discussion like a seasoned diplomat, "Maybe you just need a break from each other."
"No! She said she didn't ever want to be my friend again."
I attempt to bridge the obvious gap, "Never is a long time. How about we check back with her at the end of recess?"
The wailing continues.
I understand because I know that when you are seven years old, fifteen minutes is an eternity, and heaven help us if this confrontation occurs during the half hour of lunch recess. Just like those five minute cool-downs on the bench for minor infractions feel like being set adrift for the aforementioned ever, asking for patience when someone's best friend has just issued an ultimatum feels like a death sentence.
But these are the moments when I have learned not to panic. "Is there anybody here you can play with?"
"No," comes the crossed arms, scowling reply.
When I am very lucky, and I consider myself a periodically lucky guy, a voice comes from behind saying, "You can play with me."
The ice begins to melt. We have weathered another storm and come back stronger. Sure, it would be nice if I could train all these young minds not to deal in absolutes. It would be nice if boys and girls would generate that filter that would allow them to say, "Thank you, but right now I'm busy with Jose and Mitzi. Maybe we can get together after school?"
That's not going to happen, not anytime soon. That's okay, because of all that potential out there. So many recesses. So little time.