The Butterfly and the Stick

The title of this post sounds like a parable, and maybe it is, of sorts.  Just to be clear, though, the butterfly and the stick don’t really interact at all. It’s not that kind of story.

This may be my last post about recess adventures, though moving forward, the roadtrips and posts will still happen.

By last spring the kindergarten kids were in full bloom at recess; they had the playground all figured out and were beginning to roam. You knew they were a force to reckon with.

I ran into a wonderful example of that at Whiteside Elementary School. Some little ones were chasing a butterfly, and as butterflies do, this one had taken off over the fields by the playground. One little girl had decided this butterfly was hers, and she was forbidding anyone else to chase it. While her butterfly ban wasn’t very effective, most of the kids lost interest in the chase pretty quickly.

This left her with an open field, so to speak, so she told me she was definitely going to come back with the butterfly. I said this was fine, but thought I should tell her this might be a tad difficult.

This was dismissed out of hand, and off she went in hot pursuit.  She wandered back pretty quickly, without the butterfly but no less optimistic, and cheerfully set about making a bug hotel out of a pine cone.  I know the butterfly mission isn’t over; she’ll chase more of them every chance she gets.  This girl is definitely a glass half-full type.

Meanwhile there was an urgent report from an older girl that someone out on the field had been hurt by someone else wielding a stick.  I asked her who was hurt, and she pointed to a field dotted with children, and said, “The one wearing blue.”  This didn’t really help me zero in on the problem, so I told her she’d have to take me to the scene of the accident.  This mission was the opposite of hopefully chasing butterflies and had shifted into a needle-in-a-haystack investigation.


What can I say? A stick just isn’t very photogenic.

While we were trudging across the field, she pointed out the alleged assailant, so I asked him to join us just so we could get the the bottom of this.  Soon we were joined by a Greek chorus of his peers who were tattling like crazy, showing me a stick and embellishing the charges against my hapless captive.  I was beginning to feel sorry for him.

When the chorus and I finally got to the “victim”, he seemed to have amnesia or something.  His first response was, “What stick?” Eventually he showed me a very small red mark on his arm.  The evidence here was not  compelling – at all. Luckily at that point the bell rang, which was a good thing, because if any situation needed to evaporate, this one did.

The chorus quickly flew away, leaving me alone with the accused, who was clearly thinking hard about that  kangaroo court his peers had just staged.  As we walked back into the school, he sighed in a world-weary way and said, “Some people are seriously over dramatic.”

We wisely agreed to leave it at that, and he went back to class.  As for me, I was left hoping he gets a chance to pursue some butterflies too.  While they’re hard to catch, at least the chase takes you forward.

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