You know, as I watch my kids grow, I’ve come to the realization that, in life, the 3-5 age range is really the sweet spot. For kids, it’s the age before they are required to know better and thus do better so they can pretty much say anything they want (short of curse words around grandparents); they have no bills and can sleep whenever they want, and most folks are happy about it and (best case scenario for a childhood) everybody just wants them to be happy.
This leads to immense shade on the part of children. Since nobody expects them to do better, they have a kind of freedom most adults want but that society has taught us will be a detriment to our chances to both procreate and earn a livable wage. They get to look at you and call you fat or tell you that you smell (two things I’ve witnessed with my own two eyes from the mouths of my children), they will rub your belly without regard for how that is literally an insecurity scratch-off lottery ticket where you always win. They will tell you that your food is disgusting and you know what? It probably is. There’s a reason why McDonald’s chicken nuggets are undefeated in the kid’s approval department and your “spaghetti surprise” gets eaten one noodle at a time as long as the noodle has nothing on it that resembles something you tried to cook.
Kids are shady, and petty, in the most honest way possible.
Since kids don’t really own shit, don’t have jobs, can’t really get shit without asking for it and typically have to wait for Black Santa to deliver the $3.99 item of their desire, they learn pretty early that their friendship is the equivalent of cigarettes in prison. Their friendship and how they show it works as currency. It’s why kids can be assholes with their friendship—both taking it away when they’re pissed (“I’m not your friend!”) and giving it freely when you do something nice (“You’re my best friend!”). It’s also why they take it so seriously. A kid’s whole day can be ruined by some other kid saying, “I’m not your friend anymore!” And I mean ruined in a way that no Happy Meal can overcome, though a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, a.k.a. Las Vegas for kids, can usually do the trick.
Well, my kids definitely wield their friendship (which is odd because they do it amongst their siblings; lil’ homie, YOU’RE STUCK, FAM) like Thor’s hammer, looking for any opportunity to lord it over one another. My daughter, who is 10, doesn’t do it at this point. She spends more time telling them that they can’t take away their friendship because they’re all stuck together.
But not only do they threaten to pull their friendship, they’ve managed to raise the stakes. Now, if you piss off my kids, and my youngest, in particular, they are quick to let you know that you are NOT coming to their birthday party. My nigga, if you think you’re about to come through Charles Edward Cheese and get some of this Baby Vegas action with MY three-year-old, you are sadly mistaken if you have pissed him off that day. So what if his birthday is literally half a year away, it matters not. What DOES matter is that you got him fucked up and his birthday is now off-limits to me and you, your momma and your cousin, too. And your little dog too, if you keep trippin, nigga.
It’s NOTHING to hear my kids playing in our playroom and then out of nowhere, “YOU ARE NOT COMING TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!” followed by “YES I AM COMING TO YOUR BIRTHDAY PARTY!” or hear the heavy pitter-patter of little black children racing down stairs to let me know that “OTHER KID SAID I COULDN’T COME TO HIS BIRTHDAY PARTY!” It never fails. Ever.
And the thing is, they really mean that shit even if it’s entirely unenforceable. My youngest will tell you that you aren’t coming to his party, cross his arms and go into another room and stew in his pissedoffedness at whatever transgression you have committed. Whether it’s messing up the dinner party he’s set up (he loves to cook), not giving him that snack for which his soul beckons or simply looking at him the wrong way when you were supposed to look at him the right way, he is not with the shits.
All of this wouldn’t be as funny as it is if he wasn’t THE most jovial little fellow on the planet. He’s the kid who hugs every kid in his class on the way out and announces himself when he walks into his classroom and lets everybody know that he’s leaving. Just the other day when I picked my boys up from school, I watched as he terrorist fist-bumped several of the three- and four-year-old homies on the way out, like he was doing the reverse of the intro scene from Belly. All he needs is a theme song and he will be on his way. It’s like everybody is on his good side, especially when doing what he wants.
But word to the wise, if you piss him off, you are absolutely not coming to his birthday party so don’t even ask, B.