Before we go any further with this relationship, I should probably tell you that I can carry a bigger rock than you. That’s right, you heard me. And I don’t need to prove it, because that’s just childish, but it’s important for you to understand that I can, even though I don’t want to right now, but if I did, it would be bigger than yours.
This mastery of rock lugging was a skill honed early on in my years at Syracuse Elementary. See, there was this big, fat, spidery canal that ran behind the school...for years...completely unfenced, unnoticed, unattended by any government agency charged with impeding children’s creativity and reckless joy. The 70’s were WAY MORE FUN (and perilous) than now.
The bell would ring, and we shot out of the gate, arms flailing wild and frenzied in the spring air, propelling us toward the “death ditch,” never receiving so much as a bored yawn or finger lift from teachers keeping watch. The children “less determined,” never reached their destination, as they were enticed by the enormous A-frame swing set, allowing you to soar like a bird while your fingers had the @#$% pinched out of them by the linked chains. Another gaggle was distracted by the brilliant rays dancing off the 20 foot metal slide. Smoldering in the sunlight, that baby could burn the top couple layers of skin clean off your upper thighs on a warm day, but the waiting line wound around the entire sandpile area. Why? Because IT WAS A PLAY GROUND, PEOPLE! AND LOOK AT US! (those of us who are left anyway) WE’RE FINE! FINE, I SAY! Geez, you big babies.
And okay, yes, in hindsight, it appears that children might have been considered a little bit less precious back then. But really, really, how many layers of skin...or fingers...does a child need, anyway? I think I’ve made my point.
Anyway, we figured the best place to hold these “Very Important Club” meetings was behind the biggest tree trunk on the canal bank, which was lined with stones that we liked to imagine were placed there by cavemen. Or founding fathers. Or 6th graders. All equally impressive.
The earnest pledges would gather around, and the vetting process began:
“We’re gonna need you to carry a rock.”
“Wait. A rock? How come?”
And just like that, they were kicked out. But those willing to think outside the box would squat, heave and hoist with all their underdeveloped muscular might, because the bigger the rock and longer the haul, the loftier your esteem in the organization. For what purpose, we knew not—we just knew it was important to exert every effort, even if it meant a busted carotid artery to deal with later on. And as I said, the bigger and longer the rock haul, the higher your position.
I was President (she said modestly).
Hold your applause.
I tell you this, not because I expect you’ll bow down to me the next time we meet up in the grocery store, although who am I to discourage your appraisal? But rather, to introduce the suspicion that maybe...just maybe...Heavenly Father loves children who grow up in Syracuse just a little bit more than He loves urchins from other towns.
Because I kind of think this story proves that He scooped up all the best stuff He could think of, and stuck it into the dirt and grass that we call home. And before you get all weepy because you grew up in some other—and by other I mean inferior—place, and are just now being made aware that you were a distant second on His list, you can rest well in the knowledge that if you’re reading this, you have righted that wrong. Because you love your children more than your parents did you. And remember, I’m just the messenger.
In conclusion, I believe we’ve established several things: First, spidery death ditches=all that is good and holy. Second, children are born with excessive body parts. And third, I can carry a bigger rock than you. Bless your feeble heart.
Now put away that gun. Before I crush it with this boulder.