A child next to me throws himself to the floor and howls like a wolf. No reaction. He returns to the table and plays the silverware and car keys as drum, singing a song whose lyrics are a simple plea for water. His father is drinking a milkshake.

His mother speaks to his father as if they are conducting business, a hushed and serious transaction.

The bored boy’s drumming increases even as he is served orange juice. He also rehearses the noise of a train or wind through a cracked door.

He is certain he is alone in the restaurant. He is probably even more alone at home.

Good and Bad Children

— Robert Louis Stevenson

Children, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.

You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet;
And remain, through all bewild’ring,
Innocent and honest children.

These are the first two stanzas; see the rest at:

  • Empathize with the screaming child (although you did not love her before this interaction).


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