520. Three Minus Two

I know it wasn’t too long ago that I wrote that there’s not much we can do about the social world of children. I advised a parent to listen to a child’s social problem and express caring, but not to try to solve the problem. I said adults have to come to terms with children’s sometimes cruel society, only trying to control what can be controlled, and letting some of the chips fall where they may. That was very good advice. Recently, though, I sort of didn’t follow it.
There were three children – Hecate, Martha, and Regina – who had been a threesome throughout most of the year. They’d worked together on projects in class, and at recess, they’d found things that they could do together. But somehow, Hecate and Martha, at some point, decided to become a twosome. I don’t know why; I can’t imagine that Regina had done anything to earn her exclusion. But I noticed that Hecate and Martha were playing together at recess, and Regina was alone. Sadly, three minus two tends to equal one.
I really did try to tell myself to stay out of it. But Regina looked so lonely, and I thought about that loneliness. I didn’t want her year in third grade, which had been mostly positive, to end in sadness. I decided to get involved in a way
that would not look as if I were involved. I bought some colored sidewalk chalk, and I asked Regina to draw me a picture on the sidewalk.
Regina likes to draw, and she has a good imagination. Right away, she began her picture. It was colorful, and children started gathering around. Some asked me whether they could use some of the chalk. I asked Regina whether she would mind, and she smiled. She didn’t mind at all. I told the other children not to go away with the chalk – that I wanted to keep track of it.
I sat there proudly while four children (including Regina) worked together to plan the picture. They talked with each other as they drew, and it didn’t seem to bother Regina when Hecate and Martha came over to see what was going on. The two didn’t ask to join the party, but they did express appreciation of the artwork.
I guess my somewhat surreptitious intervention did some good. I don’t think anyone knows that I bought the colored chalk for any specific reason; I have a reputation for always carrying bubbles, jumpropes, and various other doodads to give bored children something to do. As far as I know, you, reading this article, are the only people who know about my hidden motive. And you won’t tell, will you?

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