“Today at school we played ‘Kill the Girls,’” my kindergartener tells me as I work on his sister’s lunch.
“Oh, really?” I respond. “That doesn’t sound like a particularly nice game, Zach.” I pull last night’s tortillas and beans out of the fridge, grabbing some leftover squash for good measure.
“I didn’t get to make a kite in school,” Benjamin whines. “Mrs. A didn’t call me.”
“NA!” Lilah screams, which is how she says “snack,” a word that refers to any and all comestibles.
“I’m getting it, baby.” I dump leftover Monterey Jack on the tortilla and turn on the burner. “You’ll probably get to make one tomorrow.” I pour more milk into Lilah’s cup then grab her to wash her hands. I turn to add beans and another tortilla to the quesadillas.
“Some kids hurt me in school,” Zach tells me.
“Who hurt you?”
“The girls in the other class. They held me.”
“Well, what happened?”
“Ian tried to help me. He told them they couldn’t.”
I flip the quesadillas too early and beans fly out. “Lilah, go to your seat. Lunch is almost ready.”
“NA!” she cries.
“It’s almost ready. But you have to go to your seat.” She starts toddling off to her chair, belly arriving a good fifteen seconds before the rest of the child.
“I didn’t make a kite,” Benjamin tells me.
“I know, Ben. Zach is trying to tell me something.” I turn the food out of the pan and grab the pizza cutter. “First, I’m glad your friend tried to protect you. It’s nice to have such a good friend. You should be sure you try to defend your friends.”
“Yes, I do but they called me a name while they were holding me.”
“Here,” I say, tossing quesadillas on Ben’s and Lilah’s plates. “What did they call you?”
“They called you ‘weak boy’?”
“Mrs. A. didn’t call my name,” Benjamin mourns.
“Ben, just tell her you want to make a kite tomorrow. But, please, let your brother finish telling me. So, did you tell the teacher afterwards?
“I couldn’t do anything. I just went back to playing.”
Lilah is grunting and gesticulating towards the food. I hand her another. Then it dawns on me. “Zach, was this while you were playing ‘Kill the Girls’?”
“Yes,” he replies, as if there is no connection between the game they were playing and the attack upon his person.
“Well, do you think that maybe they didn’t like that you guys were trying to kill them and they were trying to defend themselves?”
“Yes, but then my guards tried to stop them. I think they learned the better of it.” At this point, I am not sure I want to know how exactly the girls learned the better of it. On the one hand, I am thrilled he is being included in the reindeer games, being treated as one of the guys. If he were an outcast, he’d have been left out of the game or – as we all know – grouped with the girls. Instead, he is definitely considered part of the group.
On the other hand, I’m not particularly thrilled with the reindeer games they are choosing to play.
“But, I didn’t get to make a kite today. Mrs. A. didn’t call my name.”