Jane: Ender, dude, where do you think you’re going?
Ender: Outside. Play with the guys.
(“The guys” are Cinder and his friends, currently bouncing like mad on the trampoline. And I pause and wonder how to explain to the little dude that 1) he’s two-and-a-half, so I can’t just send him out into the wild that is our Common unsupervised and I can’t supervise him because I need to make supper and, perhaps just as pertinently 2) I’m pretty sure “the guys,” 9, 10 and 12 years old, don’t want him on the trampoline with them. Finally, I say:)
Jane: I think the guys can’t play with you right now; they’re doing something pretty tricky.
Ender: Guys play with me. I’m cool.
(And I pause again, loving the confidence and dreading the meltdown that will follow the rejection that I’m sure is inevitable the second he shows up on the trampoline. But we’re talking on the balcony that overhangs the trampoline, and “the guys” here us.)
And one of them says: For sure you’re cool Ender. Come on down.
(And as he toddles off, brimming with joy, I take a moment to feel thoroughly ashamed. For yet again underestimating children: my children, their good friends that I know so very well. For underestimating their goodness and kindness. And I get all sappy and mellow and happy and reflective, and then a voice brings me back.)
Cinder: But Mom? Can you make sure he’s wearing pants?