“I don’t know when we’ll move next, Milo….why do you ask?”
“I wondered when I wouldn’t have to go to school with Charlie.”
“Oh.” I turned around and sat down again at the foot of the bed. “You know, Milo, you have to learn how to deal with people you don’t like.”
He grimaced. “Charlie’s a silly boo-boo butt. He’s always mean to me.”
I was familiar with the Charlie complaint, as it’s been the reoccurring school gripe for the past several weeks. I don’t doubt that Charlie’s acting like a little twerp, but I’m also quite sure Milo is fully of twerpiness himself. The two boys were best buddies a few months ago. I’m not sure what happened, but the puzzle doesn’t seem to be solvable by the First Act of Defense taught to New Entrant students, namely, declaring in a clear and authoritative tone: “Stop it, I don’t like it.” Of course, any antagonist knows that their object doesn’t like their teasing, that’s why they’re doing it. Clearly.
“But you can’t just quit when you run into someone you don’t like. Some day you’re going to have a job, what if you run into someone you don’t like there? You can’t just quit your job all the time, then you wouldn’t have any money to buy food and pay for a house and take trips. You have to learn how to cope with people you don’t like. They you’ll win.”
Milo giggled. He likes winning.
“Do you know, I didn’t used to be good at dealing with people I didn’t like either. Then I got a job, and discovered that I didn’t like my boss, the one who tells me what I have to do.”
“Why didn’t you be the boss?” Milo wanted to know.
“Ha! You don’t get to start out being the boss!” My mind flitted to a certain type of entrepreneur who starts their own business just precisely so they don’t have to work for someone else…but no need to complicate the story. “I didn’t like my boss because he wasted my time and he wasn’t fair and I didn’t like the decisions he made.”
Milo is all ears now. “Why didn’t you go work for someone else, then?” he wanted to know.
“For me, there was no one else to work for in that town. To work for someone else I would have had to move to a different town. So I had to learn how to give him what he wanted, so he would give me what I wanted. I gave him respect, and reports on time; he gave me independence.”
Milo giggled. He also likes independence. Probably even more than he likes winning.
“There are lots of other kids in your class, why don’t you play with someone else?”
“They’re all running around.”
“Well, you’re good at running, you can play that game.”
“They’re playing Thunderbirds. I don’t know how to play Thunderbirds.”
“EVERYONE is playing Thunderbirds? Even Emma?”
“Well, no… and not Ash.” Milo’s mood seemed to be looking up.
“Ah, well, shall I check and see if Thunderbirds is on Netflix, and tomorrow maybe we can watch an episode?”
I got a big grin in response to that suggestion.