A friend of Noelle's had come down to our stop from the other entrance to the neighborhood and Noelle was explaining the rules of the 'Race the Cars' game when LLA's minion announced that no one can join unless they first sign up at LLA's house.
Blink. Blink. Oh hell no!
Then LLA pipes up with the declaration that to join the game of running on the public sidewalk racing cars would cost each applicant two dollars.
Jaw drop. I'm sorry; asphinctersays whaa? LLA's aunt/mother/second cousin twice removed was standing Right There and did nothing. I mean, they are all one giant in-bred family that has taken over half the neighborhood so it's not like she had no authority over him. So that's the way it's gonna be, huh. Fine. Fuck you Jobu, I do it myself.
I immediately (and not at all quietly) interjected that it was not a correct statement and anyone could run so go and have fun. Noelle had had enough of LLA's shenanigans so she and her friend walked away to play tag. Noah half-heartedly started up the sidewalk after LLA's gang when he stopped and turned back to me, sad that the other kids didn't want him to play. I comforted him, telling him that you don't want to play with mean kids anyway. Why don't you ask Noelle if you can join in the game of tag?
He had a better idea though: "Mommy, will you play tag with me?"
All of the reasons why this was a bad idea raced through my head: the grass was wet, I was dressed for work, there are a lot of younger siblings around and I don't want to swing around suddenly and clock one of them...but what I said was, "Of course Boo Boo. Let's play."
So we played tag, Noah running and laughing and giggling with me chasing him. Within seconds, Noelle and her friend asked to join in. Of course! Everyone can play. And so we continued running, giggling, shrieking...and then the darnedest thing happened: LLA and his crew, one by one, asked NOELLE if they could join in too. She had the opportunity to turn the tables on them but my girl, she just said "Sure!" Some of the boys looked uncertain so I added, "Everyone is welcome to play."
A giant giggling game of tag ensued; I made sure to get myself tagged 'It' and chased all the kids until the bus came, the other parents watching us and smiling. By showing that they didn't need the other kids and creating their own fun, Noelle and Noah drew them all in by inclusion, not exclusion. The laughter rang loudly that morning and the smiles brightened the sky far more than the sun ever could.
But no one smiled bigger than me.
Take that, Jobu; we did it ourselves.