School seems to be a necessary evil, I’m a kid, I go. Over all it’s not a complete waste of time, I could see someday using long division. Ricky, my best friend, waits for me at his house that is six houses up the street. Ricky is the only nine-year-old at the school smaller than I am. We’ve been friends since out first day of Kindergarden. That first day of kindergarten – it wasn’t something easy to forget. Ricky’s mom had dropped him off with hugs and tears. She was just a kid too, only twenty years old. But at the time it was a bit disconcerting to see a mom cry. When she was out of sight Ricky was left standing in a room filled with kids his own age, a bit overwhelmed. Then he noticed us in the carpeted part of the room. We had piles of red cardboard blocks painted to look like bricks. Rick wandered over where I was giving instructions to two teams of kids. Ricky gave his standard introduction, “Hi, I’m Ricky.”
“Hi Ricky, we need a wall right here and if you can figure a way to get a roof on our fort that’s what we need. Your on our team.” I said.
We worked much of the morning once everyone was clear on what a fort was and how to build one. Our wall curved to form a half circle – there was no roof. A pile of hard wooden blocks was referred to as ammunition. It was important to have lots of ammunition near by.
With hindsight I see half a classroom of kindergarteners engaged in a creative project for a least an hour. I’m sure Miss Hanna, our teacher, was very proud of her first day as a kindergarten teacher – her well-behaved brood content, at work and quiet.
At this point I stood up and in a loud low voice – as manly as a five year old can sound said, “This is war! You’re the bad guys. We are the good guys!” I picked up a hard wood block and threw it across the room knocking a few red cardboard blocs out of the bad guys fort. Ricky, my second, from that day forward – picked up a hard wood block throwing it as hard as he could at the enemy fort. His throw went high just above the wall of the apposing teams fort. As luck would have it one of the bad guys looked above the rim of the fort just as the block passed its goal leaving only the kid’s forehead in it’s path. I can still hear the scream – kids cried, the teacher turned white.
I remember sitting outside the principles office on a bench at the end of a long hall. Seems like we sat there in silence for a long time. I don’t remember how we got there. The principle, a giant man, a very stern man – invited us into his office. He seated us on a sofa in his office, side by side, our legs sticking our straight. Our legs barely long enough to keep our shoes off the upholstery.
The Principle pulled a chair close, bent over, looking into our cherub like faces said, “What was that about?”
I answered without a pause, without excuse – in a clear direct statement of truth. “It was War.”