Why look who it is! Michael and Janie! You know I was down here on my knees doing the weeding and just wishing someone would drop by and give me a good reason to quit, and how here the two of you are, and I’ll bet you want some milk and cookies don’t you? That’s little Charlie in the wagon isn’t it? Bring him in and he can play on the porch swing.
Now Michael, you play with Charlie and make sure he doesn’t tumble off that swing while Janie and I go in and get some nice chocolate cake and milk.
Here we are. Oh dear, let me take these silly knee pads off. I know you’re probably wondering why I still weed the flowerbeds on my knees. It’s because Father O’Driscoll once told me that pulling weeds was like going to confession. First you get down on your knees, then you have to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty a bit. You have to be smart enough to know the weeds from the flowers, and then when you start pulling them up you realize some of the weeds come out easily enough, but others have very deep roots. If you just break off the tops they’ll grow right back. Getting down deep to the roots–my that’s a difficult job. Sweaty work! Then when you’re done and the flowerbed is all neat and tidy the next week the weeds grow back and you’ve got to do it again. Confession’s like that isn’t it dears?
No Michael you and Janie and Charlie can have the milk and chocolate cake. I don’t need any more sweets and this iced tea is all I need, here let me sit down for a moment. I’m so hot!
Now Janie, have things been going badly at school again? Has Bridget been pulling your hair? You don’t say! I hope Michael sticks up for you when he can. You do Michael? That’s a good brother. Charlie and Janie are very lucky to have you. Oh dear. Sidney punched you when you pushed Bridget and made her fall down?
And Janie, you mustn’t pull Bridget’s hair back. That doesn’t really solve any problems at all now does it? It only makes things worse. It is hard not to fight back though isn’t it? I remember when I was at school a horrible girl named Loretta who had pigtails would stick out her tongue at me when teacher wasn’t looking. I hated her for ten years all through school. It’s true! I used to plan all sorts of ways of getting even with Loretta.
Let me tell you what my husband Frank used to say to our boys when they had a spot of trouble. He’d say, “Boys, if you fight back you lower yourself to their level. Rise above it. You’re better than that! Life’s too short to make enemies! If they want to fight with you and call you names you just let them because being negative has it’s own reward. It’s just empty and doesn’t lead anywhere. Always walk away from a fight. Even if you win a fight you lose a friend. That’s what I say!”
Well, they didn’t always obey him, and when they didn’t guess what happened? Both boys ended up with a black eye, and they weren’t friends in the end anyway. So everybody was the loser. It’s very sad.
Don’t you see how it goes when you return evil for evil? Everybody ends up getting a black eye and they’re still madder than a hornet at the other person. I suspect that’s how wars start don’t you Michael? First one fellow calls another fellow a name, and before you know it they’re taking sides and their friends are joining in and then it all blows up and gets very nasty.
I’m for being like little Charlie over there. See how happy he is just to swing on that swing with chocolate cake all over his sweet little face? Not a care in the world and life is good!
There now Janie, of course you can have another piece of cake, and do you know I thought the two of you might be coming over so I bought a couple of candy bars and hid them in the living room and we’ll go inside in just a minute and you can hunt for them, and when you find them here’s what I want you to do.
Instead of eating them yourselves, why not take them to school tomorrow and Janie you give one to Bridget and Michael, you give yours to Sidney and you know what? By the end of the day I expect you’ll all be friends again.