You don’t go and give your Stage Plank cookies to some other girl
I am brushing up on my knowledge of playground politics with our son James.
When I pick him up from daycare during the week, I take a few minutes in the car ride home to ask him what he did during the day, who he played with and so forth.
His “best friend” changes almost daily. By the time I remember a name, he has changed his best friend to someone completely different.
The same kid he got into a fight with over a truck will be his buddy again the next morning during breakfast.
His take on girls changes with the wind as well.
“Do you like any girls at school,” I playfully ask him.
“No, I don’t play with girls,” he said. “I tried to today but they told me they don’t play with boys.”
At the dinner table, out of nowhere, he will remind me that he doesn’t like girls. They have “cooties” or “they are mean.” Overall, I just don’t think my little man understands them very well.
He talks with his daddy about them pretty regularly. But, like most boys, he blushes and grins when I start prying a little more.
One day he tells me he has a girlfriend. The next day, he isn’t talking to her.
I have been out of the playground politics for quite some time. So it’s taking me a little longer to get back into the swing of things.
I can recall my first saga of school romance in first grade.
Sitting in the hallway of Monticello Elementary during a routine tornado drill, a small piece of paper was shoved into my hand by my best friend Melissa.
“It’s from Tom,” she said, with a grin.
I unfolded the small piece of paper, and it had a horse drawn on it. I loved horses, and Tom tried his hardest to draw one for me.
The note read: Will you be my girlfriend? Or I guess we can be friends.
Grinning from ear to ear, I wrote “yes” and passed it back down to Tom.
It was official. We were “a couple.”
Tom was a short, stout boy who walked like a bulldog. He had dark brown hair and dimples buried in his cheeks. And he was very country, meaning he wore boots everyday and talked just like his daddy, who was a local farmer.
During lunch, we would sit by each other and talk about what we did in class that day. Tom had a hard time learning his writing exercises, and I didn’t like subtraction tables.
But we both enjoyed our art days. He would draw me a tractor or other farm scene. And I would draw him a frog holding an umbrella.
He would give me his cookies at snack time. And he would even push me in my swing during recess.
I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone at home after school. But it would make my day to hear Paw Paw telling him I was at the supper table and couldn’t talk to him.
“Who is this Tom boy,” he asked, lighting his pipe one night. “Who’s his bunch?”
“He’s my boyfriend,” I said, with a smile.
Paw Paw would grunt and start grumbling. Maw Maw would smile at the notion of a first grade romance.
We only saw each other at school, but we enjoyed each other companies.
But like James’ fickle relationships, it all changed one day.
I had to finish my music lesson one afternoon and was late getting out to recess. After Mrs. Coleman explained to me for the hundredth time which bar to hit on the xylophone, I darted out to the playground.
It was also snack time when they brought a stand out where you could buy candy bars or chips with the little change your folks sent you to school with that day.
And that is where I saw it all unfold. Tom handed a package of Stage Plank cookies to Samantha.
Samantha was a little girl in the classroom next door to ours. We weren’t friends.
I didn’t really want a Stage Plank, but that wasn’t the point.
I walked right up to Tom and confronted him as Samantha tore into the pink icing, gingerbread snack.
“You’re not my boyfriend anymore,” I said, stomping my foot. “You can go play with Samantha.”
I ran to the swing set alone, but Tom was quickly behind me. He kept telling me he was sorry. But I had made up my mind.
I refused to sit by Tom at lunch. When he passed me a note in class, I threw it under my desk inside the cubby hole under my seat. I told Paw Paw to be mean to him when he called at home. And I refused his cookies, even though I really wanted them.
To be honest, I can’t remember if I ever forgave Tom. But I do know that I remained “single” the rest of the school year.
It was an innocent time that I look back on with a smile. I am taken back there every time James tells me about “his girlfriend.”
I just hope, for his sake, he always gives her his Stage Planks. It can make or break a relationship.