Yesterday afternoon I was walking back from the library when I got entangled with two small boys who were larking about on the street, a frazzled mother trailing behind with a buggy and an air of utter weariness. The boys, in contrast, were brimming over with life, running, jumping, tripping over each other and shouting. Oh my goodness, the shouting.
She had obviously asked them to stop at the kerb and not cross without her for fear of being run over. One of the boys shouted:
‘Once I got knocked over by a car, BUT I wasn’t even dead!’
The other child stopped for a moment, admiring his not dead companion. This egged him on.
‘Yeah! I it ran into me but I just didn’t die. I didn’t EVEN die!’
The mother said something along the lines of; ‘Don’t even think about trying it now, sunshine.’
The other child continued in his silent admiration and the immortal child finished triumphantly:
‘Because what I did, right? Well, I just ran FOR MY LIFE.’
Later on my walk I caught up with them again. This time I could see them waiting for the mother at another street corner. The rowdy boy said to the other boy:
‘Let’s kick this lamppost yeah?’
The other boy agreed and they went about kicking it with great vehemence.
They could see me coming, and there was speculation in the rowdy boy’s eyes. He knew that what they were doing was what a grown up would think was naughty. He thought for a moment, gave me the side eye and then upped the ante.
‘Let’s kick it harder.’
‘Yeah, really kick it.’
I kept my powder dry. I did not need to be the voice of divine retribution. I just kept walking towards them, watching and waiting.
The rowdy boy was now in a frenzy of kicking.
As I walked past, just to show me who was boss, he pulled his leg back and gave it the most almighty whack with his foot.
‘AAAAAAHHHHH! OWWWWWWWW! OOOOOUCHHHHH! MY FOOOOOOT!’
The lamppost stood calmly, unharmed. I sailed by serenely, utterly vindicated. The boy crouched on the pavement with the other boy over him, panicking because the mother was coming and they would have to explain a swollen foot and sobbing child.
It’s not often true, but in this case, I verily believe that with age comes wisdom.