It’s Time to Pick up Ukraine’s Books

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine, a Grade School Memory

Makariv: Destruction 30 miles west of Kyiv_031222

Putin’s war reminds me of an incident in grade school that I completely forgot about until two weeks ago. I’ll tell you about it in a moment. But first, for those who don’t already know, my home life as a child wasn’t spectacular. As a result, there were times when I really wanted to hit someone, anyone, and this was one of those days. All I needed was an excuse. That said.

Darin was a kid who, for no good reason, we all kind of shunned. He was quiet, maybe a little shy, and for the most part, kept to himself. He had no friends that I knew of. Not that I was a social rock star or anything, but I had my buds. In his defense, he wasn’t from the area; his family moved in maybe a year earlier, and fitting in takes time.

School was out for the day and I was walking a round-about way home because home wasn’t where I particularly wanted to be. As I walked I saw a group of kids down the street. I heard shouting and it sounded like there was going to be a fight so I picked up my pace. But when I got there, I remember being disappointed.

It wasn’t a fight. It was just some kid that I didn’t know, probably from a different school, he was picking on Darin. I was disappointed because I didn’t think there would be a fight. Darin didn’t seem the type. Then, out of the blue, opportunity struck. The bully pushed Darin to the ground. His books went flying. When Darin tried to get to his feet, the bully pushed him back down. This repeated too many times.

Eventually, someone had to do something. I picked up Darin’s stuff. “Hey! Don’t help him!”

I went to give Darin his books because to his credit, he wouldn’t stay down. Then, I got pushed from behind. I didn’t fall and I didn’t drop anything. I handed Darin his books and felt the exhilaration that comes with impending release. It took all day, but finally, I was going to get my fight.

That day was a lesson in disappointment, frustration, and anger management. The bully and his two friends ran away as soon as I turned to face them. I don’t know why. I was ready to explode and was really looking forward to it. Suddenly, I had no excuse, no reason to hit anyone. Life really isn’t fair.

Darin and I started walking together. He was going home; I was going anywhere but home. When we got to his apartment, I remember his mother being very nice and thanking me a lot. I didn’t know why. I was looking for a fight, not a friend. On the inside, I still wanted to hit someone; on the outside, I smiled to hide my angst.

She made us sandwiches for a snack. At home, the only time I ever got a sandwich after school was when I made it myself. I remember hanging out with Darin for the rest of the afternoon and he turned out to be an OK kid. We never became close friends because his family moved away shortly after the incident. But I think I would’ve liked hanging out with him.

Moral of the story:

Putin is a bully and it’s time for America to pick up Ukraine’s books.

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