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The Children Keep Me Brutally In Check

by Keegan Jean

Ah yes, it is such a beautiful thing to hear children speak.

Their innocence and age often render them overlooked citizens in this society but anyone who listens carefully will tell you the magnitude of their actual insight. One day, I was sitting in the cafeteria enjoying the living heck out of a definitely stale clementine. I basically get half of my fruit intake from the school-system, usually picking off whatever the hoard leaves behind, which is more often dust than fruit so I was especially thankful for some untouched Vitamin C. Anyway, as I’m devouring the citrus, I notice a kid coming toward me that I recognize from a different program. These kids don’t pay attention to jack, so I was shocked to see him looking as though he knew who I was and even more so that he would come say hi.

As he drew close I paused my meal to greet him and said “hello,” with a polite smile. Then without hesitation,

“You look like your life has gone miserably.” He says to me while keeping eye-contact.

Shook, I sat there staring at nothing as he had taken no time to wait for my response. He was already off onto his next activity, which appeared to be the game of heads-up-seven-up going on behind me.

'Gone miserably?'

At times this truth can prove to be devastating. I wanted to laugh hysterically, but felt as though I was choking back tears. I had a million things to say but my mind had been blanketed by an eternity. It felt like I was sitting there forever before I got up and left.

'Gone miserably?'

Try as I might, I can’t shake this incident from my mind. Was he joking or delivering an awfully well-timed signal from the universe? Do I really look like that or was he imagining it? Replaying this over and over in my head has led me to look more deeply inward than anything else has caused me to in a long long time. He really got to me. All this therapy I’m paying for and this fourth grader, because of his disposition and the contrast of what I expected vs. what he presented, is the one to provide the shakeup for a breakthrough?

Obviously, I couldn’t say any of this to him. I decided instead to ask about his Pokemon cards, (a thing I always always see them in a frenzy over) the next time I saw him and see if I could fish out any sort of resolve around this interaction. We were heading to class when I stopped him and let everyone else in.

“So how’s the card collection coming dude?” I ask with a smirk.

And without pause, “Who are you again?”

I stood there with clenched teeth, yelling internally...'The guy whose life has gone miserably!!!'

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