There are moments when the children play so sweetly together that you pause in the middle of dishwashing or cleaning to stop and stare. The older one is reading a “Clifford the Big Red Dog” book to the younger one. She reads it from beginning to end in her newly confident 6-year old reading voice. Then, at her sister’s request, she reads it from end to back, and they both laugh over the silliness. They are cuddled together on the couch, sunlight falling upon their hair.
The older one allows the younger one to sit on her lap at the kitchen table as she works on an art project.
The children head into the basement to play, and they play long and quietly and peacefully together, while you sit and read the Sunday paper.
And then you pack them up for a trip to the annual butterfly conservatory exhibit at the local botanical gardens. You’re meeting a friend and her family there. And although your children have never before met your friend’s little boy, and the little two-year old boy can barely talk, the children become instant friends. Wordlessly, the little boy leads your daughters in a spur-of-the-moment game: he finds a rock to sit on, and they both sit on either side of him. After 30 seconds of happy sitting, he darts up and finds another rock 10 feet away to sit upon. They race after him and again settle on either side. After 30 smiling seconds, he gets up again. Repeat.
And then the children all hold hands and make a train around the greenhouse conservatory together. Chugga chugga choo choo, your youngest daughter says.
And you wonder why world peace doesn’t reign. Because children are obviously naturally good and loving and open to everyone. People are inherently good. The little boy hugs your daughter, and your daughters hug their new friend, although they cannot even remember his name.
And then that evening, hell breaks loose, and your little angel girls are shoving each other, and hitting each other with hard toys, and the youngest one willfully scatters toys all about the living room and she bounces heedlessly on the couch and shouts, I’m a bad kitty! I want to be the Bad Kitty! and you realize, okay, maybe just maybe (as though you needed any evidence other than the evening news) world peace isn’t so easily attained after all.