For All The Marbles
First it was a small marble, an average one really, but clearly new as it bore no chips or scuffs. My six-year-old brought it home and showed it off proudly.
The marbles kept coming, one every day, each found and each new. When I asked of their origins my son was coy, cagey even, a curious posture from my usually forthcoming child.
Then one afternoon he pulled a Jumbo out of his backpack – a marble so big and sparkling it looked like the whole world. This was no lost object; this was precious. Still though, he insisted he found it on the playground. Suspicions sufficiently raised, I pressed him as delicately as I could. Where on the playground? “In a corner.” The same corner, everyday? “Yes” There’s a new marble waiting for you in the same place at the same time in your playground? “Um, yeah.”
Someone was baiting my child. Somebody – a pervert obviously – was going to the playground every day and planting a new marble there and then watching my child find it. Someone was planning to hurt my son.
I began formulating a plan to lurk at the playground the next morning. I checked my phone see if I could set up a video. Or what about our old baby monitor – I think I still have that. I could set that up and catch the fucker from around corner. Who would watch my daughter? Could someone take her tomorrow morning? Or should I just call the police now?
My friend, whose son was also “finding” marbles, was a step ahead of me and discovered what never crossed my mind: our boys had taken the marbles from their classroom. Ah, yes, okay. So NOT an elaborate kidnapping scheme concocted and currently being executed by a neighborhood pedophile. Got it.
I handled the truth discreetly and with care, and my son and I moved on.
This was my first experience with a child’s intentional wrongdoing and my instinct was to believe him and then shield him, no matter the suspension of reality required. I was pleased with this self-discovery because I come from a world where children are up to no good and not be trusted. But I don’t live there anymore and that’s not where I parent. My world is big and sparkling, with something precious to discover in every corner.