Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eli 8.5 And The Exception

A few weeks ago, Eli 8.5 went to a birthday party.

It was an unusual situation. Eli has a bunch of good friends, and the kids in his class are almost all nice, but there's always an exception.

This was The Exception's birthday party.

[Note: please do not confuse The Exception with The Situation.]

Eli tells me stories about this kid all the time (let's call him Ronald). A typical story goes something like this: Eli was playing a game (like four-square) with his friends at recess. Out of nowhere, Ronald ran in, grabbed the ball, and kicked it all the way across the field.

That's annoying.

Ronald, based on what Eli tells me, is actually Mr. Super Annoying. He has a huge archive of Ronald stories, as Ronald is a bit of a legend.

Eli doesn't really want to have anything to do with Ronald, and I don't blame him. For all I know, Ronald might have some kind of behavioral issue (and I'm sympathetic to that), but friendship at any age is based, to some degree, on not annoying the shit out of the person you want to be your friend.

Because of all these issues, when Ronald's birthday came around, kids weren't exactly lining up to go. And Ronald seemed to know this, because he only invited a handful of kids.

Including Eli.

This is when it becomes really, really awkward, because there was the distinct possibility that Ronald wouldn't have anyone at his birthday party, and that just couldn't happen. So Gloria talked to Eli and tried to explain to him some of the social delicacies involved.

I was more straightforward. I told Eli to make Ronald promise that if Ronald ever became a multi-millionaire,  Eli could become part of his entourage and live in his mansion.
Okay, I didn't actually say that.

I did say that some kids (and some grown-ups) have a hard time understanding what's appropriate behavior, and they want attention so badly that they're willing to take bad attention, the kind they get when they act like a jerk. That's hard for an eight-year-old to understand, but I could tell he was trying.

After a bit of promotion, Eli agreed to go to the birthday party. He still didn't like Ronald, but he was able to detach his feelings from some of the larger issues involved.

He didn't detach his wit, though. Gloria asked him what he thought Ronald would like as a birthday gift, and without hesitation, he said, "If there is a kit for torturing animals, then yeah, get that. He'll play with that every day."

The birthday party, by the way, went without incident.

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