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No More Playing Games

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The cheap purple plastic speaks,
In an overenthusiastic but average tone.
“Stop your feet, touch a triangle,
Sing oogedy boogedy boo.”

From my spot on the couch,
I watch him jump up,
Like he can reach the ceiling
When he’s less than half my height,
Squealing the nonsense phrase.

Instinctively, I want to throw my hands to my ears,
And block the pitchy sound,
But his pure, unadulterated joy,
As sweet as a robin’s lullaby,
Makes me smile.

Meanwhile, the girl scoffs,
“I can’t sing,”
And thoughtlessly flips her staticy hair back.

I would judge her for it,
But I wouldn’t have sung either,
Not when I was eight,
And certainly not now.

For a moment, I wish I could
Tell her she can do anything,
That quality and rankings don’t matter.

She’s more mature, but far too old
To be tainted with the lies she’s been told.
I can’t do anything
To help her realize that being the best isn’t important.

For a moment, I envy him.
He’s too young to understand that lesson;
His ignorance is a blessing.

Before he can shakily write his name
In fat washable markers that will stain his fingers for days,
Or read books, with fuzzy illustrations,
He’ll be taught that doves are only free
If they can fly high enough or fast enough.

Somewhere, in between the backyard baseball,
And sweeping dust around in the garage,
(His favorite hobby, just because)
He’ll stop playing games and singing crazy words,
Because they will help him
With nothing, really. 
Get down to business.
Talent trumps passion. 
What life skill is being applied? 

That’s when he’ll stop playing games.

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