Familiarity breeds contempt–and children. (Mark Twain)

I shot in an 18-meter indoor competition today. Targets were set at the usual distance. The crowd was not the usual.  Today, there was an abundance of children probably exceeding the adult count. Children know how to pass time between ends. Their efforts to fill any void in time or motion with activity were on display and exemplified two boys.

The boys are brothers. You would know this without asking by way of their fighting. The older, as usual at this early stage of development had the physical advantage. The younger fortified with spirit.

Between ends, one activity was balancing. In this event, the younger positioned himself prone across two stools. The trick, as the three-legged stools were narrow topped, was not to fall off while depriving the senior brother of a place to sit. A younger mind not thinking ahead missed the potential that a chest would be a perfect place for a brother to seek comfort. That game was up when the prone child complained, “I can’t breathe!” The weight of the larger child was resisting rib expansion.

The whine for air caught the ears of some of adults, who sat by and watched as they thought through proper words of scolding. The older boy took pity, and with experience reminding him that nearly killing his little brother led to trouble in the past, lifted from the smaller thorax, allowing air to return to squashed lungs. The adults’ silent musings ceased upon the release and their mature eyes returned to several pairs of blank ovals the momentary hope of providing a scolding now empty.

In an accident while pulling arrows the bigger of the two boys was injuried. Details of the incident remain unclear as facts are often relayed from perspective. In some fashion the older boy, subsequent to the chest crushing of the younger, was stabbed in the back of the neck with a nock. The nock broke skin and there was minor bleeding.

The abrasion looked painful and did bring tears to the eyes of the injuried. In sympathy the uninjured smaller child looked squarely in his brother’s eyes and said, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” One must admire the courage of the smaller boy to pronounce such a crass remark. Buttercup’s eyes showed that this too would have a debt. The debt soon paid by the theft of arrows.

This sort of give and take lasted the entire competition. Fortunately, there was only the one bloodletting and no bones were broken. Albeit, several adults seemed disappointed having to conceal a mentally rehearsed after-the-fact reprimand.

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