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That boy next door does the strangest things

It amazes me how some kids never learn to play by the rules.Sipping my morning coffee, I often like to look out over that giant fence into the yard next door. I'm usually left scratching my head in wo...

It amazes me how some kids never learn to play by the rules.

Sipping my morning coffee, I often like to look out over that giant fence into the yard next door. I’m usually left scratching my head in wonder at the boy who lives there – his name is Sam. He’s great at sports, comes from a fairly well-to-do family and always seems to be the centre of attention.

Sam also has a lot of friends and when they play together, he’s always got to be the best at whatever they’re doing. It never matters to him what the impact of his actions may be, Sam has to have his way all of the time.

Take last month. Sam and his other next-door neighbor, Jose, got into a row over where they should play together.

Jose’s family isn’t as well off as Sam’s, and whenever they get together, Sam reminds him of that fact. He goes out of his way to make fun of Jose’s family, his house, the way he talks, but mainly, Sam berates Jose for having such terrible toys.

I think Sam is secretly still angry over the fact that his dad hired Jose to shovel his driveway. Sam can be a little on the lazy side and isn’t willing to do the job for what he considers such a small amount of money.

(I suspect Sam is jealous of Jose, because he is such a hard worker who’s always trying to improve himself.)

To make matters worse, Sam’s paranoia often gets him whipped into a frenzy and he’ll start raving that Jose is going to sneak into his yard and steal all of his toys. At that point, there’s no telling what Sam will do next.

I remember one time when Sam’s mother scolded him for not playing nicely with Jose. She made him invite the poor little boy over to play, but, of course, Sammy wouldn’t stand for it: he pretended that Jose had hurt him and cried until his mother made Jose go home, telling him not to return until he learned to play safely.

Eventually Jose’s banishment was over; he’d missed playing with his friend so he decided to follow all of Sam’s rules when they were together, so he wouldn’t be excluded.

Everything was great, until the day Jose tried walking into Sam’s backyard again. As soon as Jose opened the gate, Sam got worried that Jose was trying to replace him.

(It’s not that nice a yard, so I can’t see why he’s so worried.)

He could imagine Jose sneaking around in his yard and playing with his toys while he was at school. So again, he ran to his mother, complaining that Jose’s toys were ready to fall apart. He said he was worried that he might hurt himself, having Jose and his broken junk around.

His mother (not known for being the most levelheaded parent on the block) flew off the handle when told about these unsafe toys that had frightened her boy. She sent Jose home right away without even verifying her son’s wild accusations.

So Sam, obviously, isn’t used to it when things go against him.

But just the other day, Sam got in trouble at school, had his wrist slapped for not playing nicely with Jose. His teacher insisted it was school policy for all children to share their toys and play together.

Convinced Jose is a threat to his family, Sam still thinks it’s up to him to protect his territory. He even ran crying to the teacher. Her answer was not what he was hoping to hear.

“Oh Sam, when will you ever stop your childish protectionism. You’re a spoiled brat and you must learn that Jose has the same right to a nice life that you enjoy. Quit your whining and play fair.”

U.S. fleets, and several labor groups, might want to consider this anecdote in light of the recent NAFTA ruling in favor Mexican trucks gaining access to all American highways. n

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