“They started it!” How often I’d heard that in my years as recess monitor. It was always the other guys, the other person, never the quickest to speak. As if whoever spoke first would naturally by more believed. Never mind that the next words I’d hear were always, “Did not!”
Was I too old for this job now? I knew who started it. I wasn’t so old that I missed things as I monitored the recess of a hundred, six and seven year olds. I knew the troublemakers, the peace makers, the bold and the shy. I knew who were best friends, who needed constant attention, and who preferred to do their own thing.
They knew us too, myself and the other monitors. They all knew who would help and who would just yell. Maggie was very good at ignoring everything as long as it wouldn’t result in injury. Tina was the friend, interacting with each group she passed, cheering them on, helping if necessary. I was the enforcer. I didn’t choose the job, but someone had to do it and neither Maggie nor Tina had the stomach for it. I believe I fell into the role because I always thought of children as little grown-ups rather than “kids.” I won’t baby them, they deserve better.
“This is Andrew’s ball, right?” I began. Andrew beamed, the rest looked as if I’d hit them with a brick. “So, if Andrew wants everyone to use his ball, Andrew will use same rules as everyone else does...” I looked directly at Andrew, “Right, Andrew?”
“Of course,” he said, getting my drift immediately.
“So, I believe Susan is up?” they immediately shifted and started playing again.
As I watched the game proceed, harmoniously, I thought, “Maybe I’m not too old after all.”