My son barred me from the empathy party
his fifth grade classroom hosted. In our
evolving dance there are
so many events I’m not invited to, moments
I’m too intimate to share.

Later, he tells me the snacks sucked,
crackers and carrot sticks, and
there was too much applause and why
did the visiting parents get to eat before the kids,
who after all did all the work?

I try to explain about guests and hosts, care
and respect but he will have none of it.
His future parties will be free for alls, he promises,
everyone digging in, no deference paid
to custom, age, grace nor gratitude.

So I switch tracks. What were the empathy stories your class shared?
Someone didn’t kill a spider by their bed.
Someone and her brother named the motherless
rabbit kits in their back yard. Someone
let someone else score a soccer goal.

And you, what was your story?

There was a kid being mean to me, so I
called him a Baloney, and when he told me
that hurt his feelings, I stopped.

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