Jonathan headed for the "yellow-blue-red" as usual today when we arrived at school. His classmate Sam came over and took a few shots with the small yellow ball Jonathan had brought -- but he missed every shot. Each time, Jonathan responded by saying, "So close!" Sam laughed and said, "He says I suck." I told Sam, "No, he's saying 'So close' -- Jonathan would never say you suck."
Afterward I got thinking about when Jonathan was in kindergarten and one of his classmates told her mom, "Jonathan is never mean." To me that is a pretty good depiction of character, to have someone say that you are never mean or that you would never insult someone. I know when I was nine, as Jonathan is now, other kids were sometimes mean to me -- and I was sometimes mean to other kids. I remember refusing to hold a certain girl's hand when we were playing a game because she was very fat. I still remember the look my teacher gave me. She didn't have to say a word; the expression on her face said it all: "BUSTED."
I don't think that (most of the time) we should condemn ourselves for what we did when we were nine. We're far more responsible for the things we do when we're nineteen, or twenty-nine, or ninety-nine, and our meannesses at those ages are likely a lot more serious. But the thing is with Jonathan: he will probably still not be mean when he is nineteen, or twenty-nine, or whatever. He doesn't have that tendency most of us have (or develop) that makes us judge people according to their skills, or their weight, or their appearance, or their status. Everyone in his world is a friend -- and not just the garbage truck guys, either. And if that's how you see the world, how can you be mean?
Sam, you don't suck ... you're close. Really close.