Naughty Nicholas

 

The names have not been changed to protect the anonymity of the players.

“Stop it Nicholas!” he barks at a sandy haired little boy. My boys look at Nicholas and stop doing what they are doing.
“Not like that! Here do it this way. Are you listening to me?” Nicholas isn't listening. My boys are listening. They are both unusually quiet, uncommonly still.
“Geez you're so dumb sometimes. Squeeze the red button why dontcha?” Nicholas doesn't squeeze the red button. Nicholas' Dad helps Nicholas' thumb squeeze the red button, “there. See? That's how you do it.”

“Ouch!” squeaks Nicholas. Two additional 'ouches' echo, but Nicholas' Dad doesn't notice. I think I dislike Nicholas' Dad, but say nothing. I say nothing because one of my sons is wrapped around my ankles and I'm carrying a six and a half year old, the epitomy of an over protective and incompetent parent. We wait. It will be our turn soon. I remind myself that we all have bad days. I would not like anyone to closely observe one of our bad days. I remind myself that we are enjoying an exceptionally good day. Lucky us!

I am surprised that my boys are waiting so patiently. I am also surprised that they appear to be watching with close care and intense attention.

One of my boys learns by observation. He will watch whilst somebody else does a task. He'll watch again, and again, and again, until he's ready. When he's ready he will make his first attempt. He rarely gets it right the first time. No-one is allowed to help him. He will scream uproariously with each attempt until he finally masters the new skill.

We watch and learn.

“Give me that,” snaps Dad, as he wrestles the controls from Nicholas. Nicholas pulls a face, so do my boys. “Enough with the attitude!” snarls Nicholas' dad. I shift the weight on my hip a little as Nicholas looks at me with a clear blue gaze. I smile a bit, then I remember that my teeth are no longer off limits. I flash him my enamel with a glint of retainer. He smiles back. “Pay attention Nicholas or you'll never learn anything.” His head snaps back to his dad. “Don't' you know it's rude to stare at…. er……. people!” I glance away because I suspect that I am blushing or blanching.
“Mom?”
“Yes dear.”
“I am stare at people?”
“Oh no, I don't think you ever stare at people, at least not that I've noticed.”
“I am rude?”
“No, not rude.”
“We are have a turn?”
“Yes, we shall soon.”

I think perhaps Nicholas' dad overhears us.

“Come on Nicholas. Lets give these guys a turn, you're no good at it anyway.” Nicholas' dad pulls Nicholas from the seat and moves off to another exhibit. My son unravels himself from my feet and tiptoes cautiously onto the empty, warm seat. My other son slowly and gently slithers down from my hip and steps tentatively towards the same seat. It is very quiet. Their two little bottoms shuffle a bit to make room for each other.
“O.k. let see if we can get this thing to work,” I offer, seeing as how I am a poor teacher in the technology department. Two little faces turn towards me. They are not smiling even though they now have the opportunity to exploit their time and enjoy the activity that they have waited for so patiently.
“Mom?”
“Yes dear?”
“Nicholas' dad is naughty.”

It's not a question, it's a statement.

By other parents, such as myself have committed greater “crimes.”

How do you spread a little luck and rats to the “theory of mind?”

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