Ben is Rowan’s best friend, by virtue of the fact that his mother, Karen, and I are friends, which — in a chicken-and-egg kind of way — has to do with the fact that our children are the same age. At the local farmers market two winters ago, we each spotted the other, pregnant and hauling around a two-year-old boy, and things grew from there. Now, we get the boys together at fairly regular intervals, with mixed results. Sometimes, they get along like stink, rough and tumbling about in games of flashlight tag and Go, Diego, Go! Sometimes, one or the other is tired, hungry, on the verge of a cold, or just plain ornery, and I or Karen gently try to redirect.
And sometimes, both kids just kind of act like jerks to each other the whole time.
Yesterday’s get-together started off auspiciously enough. In the car on the way over I had listed the rules: 1. Share with Ben and his brother; 2. Listen to me and to Ben’s mommy; 3. Remember to pee.
“Well,” said Rowan, “I don’t like to share. But I will share with Ben.”
As we drove up, Ben emerged from his front door, radiating with excitement. Karen told me that he had refused to sit at the table for his lunch and had instead stationed himself at the window to watch for his friend. Rowan, who had been gapping out in the backseat on the drive over, slowly uncurled, a huge, shy grin spreading over his face.
The two disappeared into a bedroom almost immediately, and almost immediately the complaining and tattling began.
“Ben’s not sharing with me, so I’m not sharing with him.”
“I want to go to sleep, but Rowan won’t have a nap with me.”
“Ben rode into me with the tricycle!”
“Rowan hit me with the dinosaur!”
Things came to a head when Ben emerged to complain that it was, “... 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST off!” and not “... 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, FLAST off!” like Rowan was saying.
From there, they began to engage in a junior kindergartener’s pissing contest:
“I’m first.” “No, I’m first.”
“I’m swinging higher than you.” “Well, I’m swinging higher than you.”