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.

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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.

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