It was 1963. I was in the 7th grade and new in the neighborhood.
It wasn’t easy. I was being picked on.
Everyday as I got on the bus I passed through a gauntlet of pokes and punches.
One morning I decided that I would give back as I received.
As I walked down the aisle Kenny, a tall lanky red haired boy, hit me and I hit him back.
Everyone started shouting and by the time we got to school a fight had been arranged.
It would be that afternoon in a vacant lot a few doors down from where I lived.
When I got home, I was upset and afraid.
My mom asked me what was wrong and I told her.
I asked her what I should do.
She was quiet for a while and then looked at me and said “I suppose you have to fight him”.
She thought a bit and then added “After the fight invite everyone over for cookies and milk”.
I knew if I didn’t fight my life would only get worse but her idea about the cookies seemed like one of the stupidest ideas I had ever heard.
I walked out the door with dread in my heart and saw that Kenny and the other neighborhood boys had already gathered.
Rules were established. There would be no biting or kicking.
After some egging on by the others we started fighting.
I landed a few good punches and was starting to feel pretty good when Kenny clobbered me in the jaw.
Soon we were both hurting.
Tired and sore our reason for fighting seemed much less important than our current misery.
The fight seemed to stop itself.
Kenny and the rest of the boys started to walk away.
I was uneasy. This fight was over but what would tomorrow bring?
I remembered what my Mom had said. It still seemed silly but I called out to them anyways.
“My Mom said you can come over and have cookies if you want”.
To my surprise they accepted the invitation.
When we got to my front door my Mom came out with a large tin of Danish butter cookies and glasses of milk.
She said nothing about the fight and asked no questions.
Soon we were all munching away on the front steps.
As we ate together our differences seemed to melt away.
My Mom had prepared a banquet for me in the presence of my enemies.
She could not fight for me but she could help establish peace.
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