The kids were playing with flowers. Throwing petals at each other in a shower. Their joy was a joy to behold. It brought a smile upon every face in attendance.
I too was smiling. I was impressed with the simplicity of their happiness. How little it takes for a kid to laugh…
From my superior, world-wise point of view, I condescended to take pleasure in their pleasure with this scholarly reflection: “Though it might be war, thank heavens they are waging it with flowers than something worse.”
I laughed at my own hoity-toity-ness and continued to watch children playing at war. Then, my eyes traveled to the hands waging the war and I saw the ferocity with which the petals were being ripped out. My hands clenched and my breath caught. I thought: “I’d rather they threw their shoes at each other!”
It was mutilation, a carnage of something beautiful. It was the same thing every thoughtless invader did to the beauty of the invaded. Its brutality was only enhanced by the tiny hands holding the flowers, by the delicate fingers tearing the petals, by the innocent face screwing up in intense competition. I felt myself back on the island of Ralph and Piggy and the Lord of the Flies; the severed head of a pig rose up vividly in front of my eyes; my chest constricted with fear; my breath hitched in throat; there was blood in the air!
I chided myself. I had let my imagination run riot. Again.
They were just kids, I consoled myself. 4 or 5 year olds do not know what to take seriously. For them, everything they do is serious. Serious enough to invest their full blood and bone. It is be all or end all with them. After all, whoever talked of kindergarten kids having a sense of humor?
So, the war of flowers to them is as serious as my final year exams are to me. No, lets be honest: they are more serious. Way more serious than my exams (which are given half-heartedly and sleepy-headedly).
Isn’t that the beauty of kids? Isn’t that the very thing we call innocence? I un-constricted my chest; unhitched my breath; opened my eyes to the decorations again and let out a little laugh.
They are just kids. Playing with flowers. Waging a war with petals. And they were the reason for the smile on every face in attendance.