Small Peters

by Steve McGrath

I have recently had the good fortune of going on biking adventures with a three year old. Tomas is an amazing kid with a sharp mind and the curious nature of a kid. One of his favorite things to do is to ride up to a newspaper box, point and ask “hey what is in the news?” He can’t read words yet but he can pick up body language pretty well. He likes to go to the box with the best picture. I will make up a story about the picture on the front cover. The story almost never has anything to do with what is actually going on in the news. The story usually ends up with the two of us howling, hysterical with laughter.

Tomas has matured out of the “Why” stage and is well into the “How come” stage. I walk next to him as he rides. His “how comes?” keeps me on track of where his curiosity lies and allows me to weave a tale worthy of a three year old. It is a wonderful way to spend time.

The other day though, Tomas rode up to the newspaper box all excited. His little face grinning, he enjoys beating me to the box so he can check out all the newspapers before I get there. A visible stunned look came across his face as he tried to make out what was going on in the photo. “Hey what’s in the news?” I walk up. Tomas is not his usual smiley self. The headline is of a mid east bombing. A man covered in blood carrying what appears to be a wrapped bloody body of a person is the front page photo. I am stunned too. Tomas hasn’t been exposed to TV, violence is a big unknown to him. He does understand that the man is upset.

“That man is sad.” I reply.
“What is on his clothes and face?” he asks with a grimace.

“That is blood.”
Tomas looks at his elbow where he has a small scab reflecting on a time when he had bled.
“How come does the man have so much blood?”

“A bomb went off and hurt a lot of people. He is trying to help all the hurt people and he has blood on himself.”
“Did the man get hurt?”

“Maybe, hard to say for sure. I think though he is sad because he is trying to help someone he loves who is hurt.”
“How come someone hurt all the people?”

“Well in this world sometimes people don’t like other people and they try to hurt them.”
“How come some people don’t like other people?”

“That is a good question, I am not sure why they don’t like each other. Many people live in places where people haven’t liked each other for a long time. They grow up learning not to like some people. They have been hurting each other for a long time.”
“How come they don’t like each other for a long time?”

“Sometimes people don’t like what other people do or believe in”
“How come?”

“Well people believe in different things. Sometimes 2 people believe things so different that they feel threatened by the other person.”
“How come they feel thretenened?”

“Sometimes it is about different gods, but usually it comes down to money. The people who have no money want money. The ones with money don’t want to give them any.”
“How come don’t they give them any?”

“Well because if they have more money then they can buy more things. The people with the money make the people without the money work for them.”
“How come do they work for them?”

“To pay the bills and to buy things.”
“How come do they need to buy things?”

“Everyone needs to buy things. Food, a house, clothes…”
“…and books and toys…” he proclaims.
“Yes and some adults buy big people toys.”

He give me a looks of uncertainty.
“What are big people toys?”
“Some people like to live in really big houses and have lots of nice things.”

“My house is really big anda anda I have a really nice bike.”

“Your house is really big and it is perfect for you to live in, you also have a really nice bike. The people who want lots of the money want a way way bigger house, way bigger than they need.”
“How come they want it really really really BIG.” blurting the B sound.

“They become greedy and want more than their share. They can never be happy they always want a bigger house or more things.”
“How come does the people want more than their share.”

“I think they want power and authority.”
“How come do they want power and athaty.”

“They want everything. It is a game to them that they want to win.”
“What do they win?”

“They win domination over other people, they think they win love.”
“How come they win love?”

“They don’t really, they just get a lot of attention from other people that want to come over and play with all of their toys. They think that the attention is love.”
“How come do they need to win love?”

“There is something seriously wrong with someone who is that greedy. They have problems. They get mean sometimes too. I think they are a little crazy.”
“How come are they crazy?”

“I don’t know, probably they have small peters.”

He looks down between his legs not certain why the size of his peter matters about anything.
“How come small peters make people crazy?” he questions me a little concerned.

“Only adults, don’t worry Tomas you will be OK”
“Oh, OK”

A moment later he continues. “People tried to hurt the people in the news and got blood on the man who was helping because they had small peters?”

Ya, something like that.


  • Small Peters
  • by Steve McGrath
  • Published on October 1st, 2003

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