An audience as a metaphor

On the way back from the library, I met a bunch of kids in the park.

One boy (off screen) was screaming his head off. He was being punished because he’d let go of the safety rope, designed to keep the kids together as they walked. His punishment was to sit to one side.
Part of the reason I came over was to break up his yelling. I invited him to join, but he declined—stayed off to the side—and kept yelling.
The rest of the children gathered to hear the story.
In the picture, the kid who’s looking off — the one who seems not to be paying attention — actually participated more than anyone else. But you wouldn’t know it to look it.
The story was “The Three Little Pigs” (of course).
Almost as soon as I started, one boy said, “Can we play Three Little Pigs?”
“Sure,” I said, but after the story.
He listened. They all listened. Some took part. Some didn’t.
To be honest, the boy’s yelling was more distracting to me than to everyone else.
And as soon as we were done, the boy started his game — assigning roles of pigs to other kids and himself, and giving another boy the role of the wolf. Off they went yelling and chasing each other.
The boy who was being punished? Still screaming his head off. Not even hoarse.
“If he can channel that intensity, persistence and attention,” one of the teachers said, “he’ll have it made.”

I’m sure there are all sorts of political life lessons we could derive from this incident.
What struck me was this — the kids enjoyed the story by ignoring the hell out of the kid who was yelling.


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