I recall the big kid in the sand box on the playground. He sat himself right down there in the middle of the sand box and started claiming all nearby toys as his own. He even started ripping toys out of the hands of younger kids and claiming, “mine.” Pretty soon kids started to gather around wanted to play in the sandbox. For some reason not having access to something is a sure fire way to ensure that people will want it. Definitely true with playground politics.
Anyway, the big kid started to allow people to play in his sandbox if they followed certain rules and were ok with his many explicit and various implicit rules. Of course those rules changed frequently depending on what would give the big kid what he wanted and when he wanted it. Kids would leave in hysteria or tears as the big kid enforced his brand of socialist dictatorship on the sandbox.
I watch with amusement and suspicion. What was going on here? Why was this behavior happening in the first place? The bigger question is – what is the big deal with this sandbox anyway? I hate sandboxes, stray cats use them for litter at night. Who would want to sit down to play in it? For that matter, who finds this playground fun anyway? I am going to swing on this silly apparatus and slide down this hot metal plate repeatedly? Don’t get me started on the merry go round, kids actually like medieval torture devices?
Better was the tree house, or the giant abandoned tractor tires out back. Brushing a few black widows away, you could nestle down in one of those and never see or be pestered by big kid or any of his consort. Could you imagine a school with a tree house today? Three broken arms in one school year was no big deal, the tree house was for the brave, rebellious types that found sand box bartering nauseating.
Big kid started to notice that I was not part of the petitioning party. At first nonchalant acknowledgement turned to outright glares. Then when a few other disenfranchised kids started to join me at the tree house, his hostility become open. He started venturing outside of the sandbox to see if he could wrangle in his sheep. He could not accept that there were people who would not play his game of dominance and acquiescence.
Funny how very little has changed in my life since 3rd grade. Same big kid. Same sandbox mentality.