Posted on: 2010-08-26
Emma was annoyed.
They were trying to play Knights and Princesses, but nobody was doing it right. They weren't listening to her! Emma frowned and stamped her mary-jane shod foot.
George tapped her on the shoulder. "What's wrong?" her neighbor and, at seven, the oldest one of her friends asked. He couldn't help noticing how even when she was upset, Emma's shiny brown ringlets and tiny freckled nose made her the prettiest little girl on the playground.
"Nobody wants to do what I want them to," she whined. "I want Taylor and Westley to play together, but Westley's still crying 'cause he scraped his knee and Taylor thinks she'n me should be sister princesses but I don't wanna be."
As Emma was talking, the more observant George noticed Taylor kissing her fingertips and placing them on Westley's knee to make him stop crying. George interrupted Emma and pointed it out. Together they watched as Taylor ran up to the top of the slide and Westley began battling an invisible dragon. Emma grinned.
"I did good!" she said happily. "Guess I should pick all the pairs."
"But that's not nice, Emma."
"It is too nice! Everybody gets to be happy 'cause they all get to listen to me!"
"But what if they don't wanna listen to you?"
"'Course they do!" Emma wrinkled her nose at George. "You're silly."
"You're being a bully," George replied.
"I am not." Emma pouted and turned away, talking to herself. "I think…Elliot. He needs a princess next."
"Elliot thinks girls has cooties," George warned.
"You're being stupid," Emma snapped. George took a step back, surprised and hurt.
"Fine." He walked away, looking back continuously. Emma didn't glance his way once.
She skipped over to the monkey bars were she'd spotted Elliot. As she approached, he dropped to the ground and smiled.
"Do you have a princess, Elliot? You need a princess. Let's go find you a princess."
"Will you be my princess, Emma?" he asked. She laughed.
"Silly, I'm not a princess. I'm the queen." She gave him a huge smile and ran to the stairs of the jungle gym to get a better lookout for a new princess. Elliot followed, bemused.
Emma looked around, and her eyes fell on a girl with thin, pure-blonde hair and a white dress with a blue bow around the waist. The girl was sitting alone watching the playground's entrance. Grasping Elliot's forearm, Emma tugged him towards the girl.
"Hi!" she said when they reached the girl. "I'm Emma. Do you want to play Knights and Princesses with us? This is Elliot. He'll be your knight."
"Can my friend Martin be my knight when he gets here?" the girl asked.
"Yeah, he should," Elliot agreed, edging away from the girl.
"No!" cried Emma. "You have to be her knight." She poked him back towards the girl. "What's your name?"
"Harriet and Elliot. You're a pair." Emma put their hands together and pushed them in the direction of the jungle gym, nodding once to show her satisfaction. Then she turned away to find the next knight of princess in need of a playmate.
As soon as Emma wasn't looking, Elliot pulled his hand out of Harriet's and shoved her to the ground. "Girls have cooties," he sneered before running back to the money bars, leaving a bawling Harriet behind him. As Emma scanned the playground she saw Harriet crying and ran up to her new friend. When Harriet told her what Elliot had done, Emma marched over to him.
"You're mean," she informed him.
Elliot stuck out his tongue at her. "I thought you were pretty, but girls have cooties, so I'm not playing Knights and Princesses." Then he pulled himself up onto the monkey bars and swung away.
Emma sat down on a nearby step and stared at her shoes. A small tear dripped off her nose.
George sat down next to her. "What's wrong?"
"Elliot's mean and I made Harriet cry."
"You didn't make her cry, Elliot did." Emma shook her head, so he continued. "But it's gonna be okay, Em. Harriet's friend Martin is in my class at school and he's right there. See? He'll make everything better."
As they watched, a largish boy went over to the still-crying Harriet, picked her up off the ground and gave her a bear-hug. When he let her go, Harriet was barely sniffling. Together she and Martin ran to the swing set.
"That's happy," sighed Emma. Then she frowned. "But who'll be my knight?"
George smiled at her. "I will," he offered.
Emma clapped her hands and smiled widely. "Yay! You're so knight-y and perfect! I was hoping you'd be mine."
They climbed to the top of the jungle gym and Emma pointed into the distance. "A dragon!" she cried, beginning the game.
Later, on the way home, George slowed Emma down so their nannies couldn't see them, and he kissed her on the cheek. His ears turned red as he said quietly, "Let's play again tomorrow."
Emma beamed at him. "And the next day, and every single other day!"