Our kids go to a public Montessori school that is also an international peace site. The schools is known for attracting left-wing, hippy-dippy, peace-sign wielding families.
Mean looks are disallowed. Breath hard? You need therapy. People are serious about peace here. Righteous.
Merrick had his first ever birthday part today: Five Years Old!
He invited six little friends from his combined age 4 and 5 year old classroom--and his longtime, best friend, probably future husband Lachlan.
Spouse aside, these kids were total strangers to our family. Most of this little group of five year olds are all first-born to their families, trend setters.
Thus, there were detailed phone conversations in advance of this major social event. Little Q gets a tummy ache after eating wheat. Will there be toast or cracker? T and L don't quite get along. Can't we disinvite one? H. is scared of dogs. Can you euthanize yours?
So today all the fussy parents dropped off their kids for Merrick's birthday party. I used to be one. I understand.
The children held hands. They sang in harmony. Girls and boys pecked cheeks--they shared cake and inquired about hurt feelings and state of mind. They frolicked and radiated sun beams and goodwill.
Until one of the kids went under the couch (why do they do that?) and stumbled across Merrick's hidden arsenal: Knives, swords, guns. Big guns. Lotsa guns. Pop guns, Nerf guns, shot guns, air guns. Sky's the limit.
Now, our household went nearly ten years without guns. I am (theoretically, Opposed). But last year, a friend handed Merrick a bag. He opened it and found a 1950 style pistol. He never looked back.
And because he is child number three, we just took the Path of Least Resistance.
Guns inspire love. This exchange routinely takes place in our household.
Merrick: "Here's my gun!"
Lachlan: "I wove the gun!"
Merrick: "You take the gun."
Lachlan: "No, you take the gun. I wove you."
Merrick: "You have the gun. I wove you better."
And so on.
So the over-attended peace loving children found our cache of juice. Those young ones dropped their flowers and love beads and took up arms. Girl and boy, they spent the next hour killing one another.
Now, this transformation began while I was in the kitchen. By the time I walked into the war zone, a dazed John was asking what kind of Kool Aid we were serving.
Watching D (only child allowed just 15 minutes of television a week and taking careful selection of dance, language, and Suzuki violin) scream with joy while taking out Merrick with a Nerf bazooka, I decided just to let the whole thing go.
Lord of the Flies? Yup. Mini-reenactment here. By the time the mayhem was complete, the children were sweaty, exhausted, content, murderous pros.
Before the parents arrived, we put away weaponry and handed out banal party bags; tootsie rolls, noise makers and plastic frogs. Not exactly lying.
Little D slid up to me: "This was the best party ever."
I considered explaining to parents at pick up time: yes, we have guns. We have them. They were hidden. Big accident, lotsa fun, apologies.
But I didn't.
I decided to let nature take its course. And imagined lots of this, at bedtime:
"Merrick has guns!"
" I shot L!"
"Merrick has a shot gun. Why can't I?"
"Today at the party we all killed each other! "
Rite of Passage
As the guests arrive at my son's party
they gather in the living room--
short men, men in first grade
with smooth jaws and chins.
Hands in pockets, they stand around
jostling, jockeying for place, small fights
breaking out and calming. One says to another
How old are you? Six. I'm seven. So?
They eye each other, seeing themselves
tiny in each other's pupils. They clear their
throats a lot, a room of small bankers,
they fold their arms and frown. I could beat you
up, a seven says to a six,
the dark cake, round and heavy as a
turret, behind them on the table. My son,
freckles like specks of nutmeg on his cheeks,
chest narrow as the balsa keel of a
model boat, long hands
cool and thin as the day they guided him
out of me, speaks up as a host
for the sake of the group.
We could easily kill a two-year-old,
he says in his clear voice. The other
men agree, they clear their throats,
like Generals, they relax and get down to
playing war, celebrating my son's life.