This morning, the little redhaired boy who rides in our car every morning showed up at my house early. Or I was running late. In any case, I was madly trying to shove some peanut butter sandwiches into the lunch bags, and find Leo’s shoes, and sign Cordelia’s agenda, and locate some non-slush-soaked mittens, and feed the dog (who always responds to any increase of activity in the room by launching into a jag of panicked, high-pitched barking. Really really loud. Yanno. To be helpful) and turn out the lights, and oh! god! the laundry! and then out the door.
To keep Leo and the redhaired boy occupied, I said to them, “Whatever you boys do, DO NOT sit on that couch and plot out your plans for world domination.”
“What are you talking about?” the boys asked.
“World domination. Don’t do it. For reals.”
“What’s world domination?” the redhaired boy asked.
“It’s when you take over the world. Like Dr. Horrible.”
At which point Leo launched into a pitch perfect rendition of “My Freeze Ray” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which is his favorite song ever.
And so the plotting began, and they were content until we got into the car.
But then the boys had a conversation in the back seat that made me cold. Leo, after experiencing a Dr. Horrible-inspired reprieve from an astonishingly cranky morning, had sunk back into the depths of his crankiness and didn’t feel like talking. The little redhaired boy (god bless that child forever) did his best to draw Leo out.
“Leo, why won’t you talk to me?” the redhaired boy said.
“I don’t want to go to school,” Leo said.
“But we’re not at school. We’re in the car.”
“Nobody’s my friend anymore at school,” Leo said.
“But I’m your friend,” the redhaired boy said.
“Yeah,” Leo said. “But,” and then he named a bunch of kids who I don’t even think he’s all that close with, “all said they wouldn’t be my friend anymore FOR NO REASON. And I was so sad yesterday, and then I got home and I wasn’t sad anymore. And now I’m going back to school and I’m sad again, so can everyone JUST STOP TALKING.” And he hunched up his shoulders so that his coat swallowed his head like a turtle shell.
“That wasn’t very nice, was it,” I said.
“No,” the little redhaired boy said. “It wasn’t.” He turned to Leo. “Leo, you are my only friend who hasn’t told me that you didn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
I stopped the car and turned around.
“Really?” I said. “The only one?”
“Well,” the redhaired boy said. “I think so. I think three friends have said that. Or maybe it was more than three. Or maybe it was less than three. But it was definitely all of them.”
I love this kid.
Leo poked his head out of his jacket. “My friend said that last year. And he never turned into my friend again. Not ever.”
“It’s a mean thing to say, isn’t it?” I said. “SUPER MEAN.”
The boys nodded.
“I hate super mean stuff,” the redhaired boy said.
“Doctor Horrible would never be super mean,” Leo assured us. “Only to Captain Hammer. Because Captain Hammer’s a -”
“DON’T SAY IT.”
“Look boys,” I said. “I think sometimes kids say mean stuff like that just because they’re in a cranky mood and they aren’t thinking about other people. When people are cranky, they’re usually just thinking about themselves. And sometimes kids say it because they feel bad inside, and they think that if they make someone else feel bad, it will make them feel better about themselves. And sometimes, kids are mean just because they like it. I don’t understand it, I don’t know why anyone would be mean for fun, but I know it’s true. There are people like that. But you two aren’t like that, and neither am I. And that’s a pretty good thing.”
The redhaired boy turned to Leo. “Leo,” he said, “I will never tell you I don’t want to be your friend. Never.”
“Me neither,” Leo said. And then they hugged and I swear to god I had projectile tears, and then Leo was all “I GET TO GET OUT FIRST!”
“NO I DO!” the redhaired boy hollered.
And then they wrestled eachother for a minute before tumbling out of the open door. They picked themselves up, I kissed each of them on the tops of their heads, and they traipsed into school.
But it got me thinking.
For those of you who are blissfully unaware of the nasty little hotbed of dysfunction that is the Minnesota Statehouse, well, I envy you. The last year and a half has been a frickin’ nightmare. It’s like Asshole Performance Art. It’s as though each one of those jokers has been vying to win Jerk of the Year, and they ALL WON. From last year’s GOP refusal to do a single thing about the lousy budget deficit until they had sent no less than nine abortion-related (and non-budget-fixing) bills to the governor’s desk that they knew he’d veto, to the insufferable sanctimoniousness of a bunch of known adulterers whining about defending marriage by writing bigotry into the Constitution instead of fixing their own damn families.
I could go on.
But yesterday, it was like we were all trapped in a scene from “Mean Girls”. This scene to be exact:
Yesterday, the Senate Republicans rejected a perfectly good public servant, Ellen Anderson, FOR NO REASON. They could not point to a single decision that she’s made since becoming the Chair of the Public Utilities Commission. They coud not point to a single item of public policy. They could not point to a single item in her agenda, nor in any of the decisions that she’s authored. Not one.
Instead, Julie Rosen (the good Senator from Fairmount, and a nasty piece of work if there ever was one) pulled something akin to calling your former BFF a bitch on Facebook. She said Anderson “demonized traditional energy sources”, yet could not point to this supposed demonization in her work as Chair.
Essentially, the GOP told Anderson that they weren’t gonna be her friend anymore.
They did it for no real reason. Certainly not for anything that she had done in her job.
They did it to make themselves feel better.
And, in the case of Rosen, she did it because she liked it.
I’m so embarrassed for my State right now, but I’m happy for my governor’s response, and I’m even happier about the response from those two little boys in the car today.
Because it is mean to say that you’re not gonna be someone’s friend anymore.
And it is mean to do it for no reason.
And it is better to decide to be kind, and to decide to be honorable and to decide to be good and decent and stalwart and brave. I know two little boys who have made that decision today. I hope the little children in the Legislature decide the same.