I had the privilege of reading to a group a second graders today, as part of a local celebration of "National Library Week." I was reading an interpretation of the classic Hans Christan Anderson tale The Ugly Duckling. You know the story - where a swan is accidentally born into a family of ducks. Until the swan grows up he feels ugly and unloved because he looks different.
Early on in the story I paused and asked the question "Has anyone here ever felt like they were being made fun of? Raise your hands if you have ever been made fun of in your life." My goal was to have a brief conversation about how everyone has felt like they didn't belong at some point in their life.
Of course, all of the adults, being good role models who were familiar with the lessons embedded in the story story, raised their hands. About 2/3rd of the children raised their hands too.
One of the little people sitting in the front row declared loudly, "I've never been made fun of."
"Well you are a lucky boy," I replied emphatically.
"Yeah!" he said. "Sometimes my cousin and I play this game where he hits my head like a bongo. That's a really fun game!"
I'm thinking, "Well that's apropos of nothing."
The little buddy on his right spun his head around and accusingly said, "You told me you didn't like that at all!"
I looked at Mr. Bongo Head with my eyebrows slightly raised.
"Well, sometimes I don't like it when my cousin hits me," Bongo Boy conceded.
"Yes," I said, my own head spinning, "Sometimes life is confusing."