Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My son had a bad afternoon. This is my understanding of the events as they happen...

It was 12:15pm this afternoon. Lunch was winding down but the kids did not notice. They were in the middle of a game, a baseball game. This game does not require a glove, a bat, or even a ball. It requires quick thinking and a healthy supply of high numbered cards. Its a game played Mano e Mano, it's Topps Attax.

Topps Attax is baseball cards with a twist. Each card has three sets of numbers printed on them signifying a ranking. You play pitcher against batter, if the pitcher wins, it's an out and if the batter wins, it's a home run. It takes time to collect an all-star caliber team, and my son had a quality team. He brought his best to school today to battle a friend. After the kids ate, they gathered around to show off their goods, make some strategic trades and play a few innings.

The game was going along pretty even, neither side gaining much advantage when the announcement was given to start cleaning up. The two boys stretched out the game as long as possible, concluded and quickly gathered their garbage and proceeded to the nearest garbage can. My son stood over the pail, held his arms straight out and unclenched his fists. In his mind he named the items as they fell into the can, one ball of aluminum foil, an empty water bottle, a popcorn bag, and a stack of baseball cards.

He froze, his eyes blinked for a second, and he looked at his hands, they were empty. He looked in the can and a gasp of air left his throat. Scattered in the pail, on top of apple cores and half eaten sandwiches were his cards. He frantically started reaching in, grabbing the cards one by one. It was like a game of survival, if he touched one card, it would effect the balance of another one, causing the card to plummet down into the abyss. He needed to swiftly coordinate his reach-in, as kids were throwing their lunch waste on top, deeper losing sight of the cards. The rescue mission turned into a salvage mission as the saved ones, already mucky, needed to be assessed for its value. A mini triage unit was set up, his friends helping out as much as they could before the lunch squad informed them that they needed to get back to their classroom. Just then the custodian, not knowing the urgency of the situation collected the can and wheeled in into the back room.

Of the thirty or so cards that went in the slop, five were saved.

The rest of the day seemed to go half-massed, quiet and uneasy. In the grand scheme of life, this is a speck on the back of a flea, but for a ten year old, this is a downer.

My wife, feeling his pain, took him over to the store to get him a couple of packs, twelve new cards to build up his team again. By the time I got home from work his mood improved and showed me his new cards. By the time bed time rolled around he felt a lot better. He would be over it soon, probably get a big laugh about it in a few days. It's funny how we hold on to our small possessions like its part of who we are, then they can disappear in an instant, realizing they were not really as important as we thought.


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