Childhood is a time if great injustice. One of the things I hated the most about elementary school (aside from people promising to “be your best friend” without really meaning it) was the dreaded “back cuts.” I would be standing in the lunch line, minding my own business, when someone would walk up to the person in front of me and ask for cuts. The person would inevitably give them “back cuts” which basically meant that THEY weren’t willing to give them cuts, but were more than willing to give them permission to cut in front of ME. The nerve! The only response to such audacity was the epic, “Not cuts, no buts, no coconuts!” Which, as effective of an argument as that should be, never seemed to work for me. I was one of the three least popular kids in the my school and thus my proclamation of “No cuts, no buts, no coconuts!” was never as effective as when the other kids said it. My meaning was obvious: “Don’t cut in front of me.” But they would simply ignore me and that was that. The worst was when they gave people back cuts in front of me multiple times. It would infuriate me, but alas, I was helpless.
To my dismay, the drama surrounding the swing set had a similar result. During the simpler, more innocent time of Kindergarten you could walk up to a set of full swings, stand in front of someone, count to ten, and they simply HAD to get off. It was your turn. In first grade you had to count to 25, but they still got off by the time you were done. But by second grade there was a new rule: If you didn’t want to get off of the swing, you could just say, “ABC don’t count on me, criss-cross applesauce!” while crossing your legs and the person couldn’t count on you. This possibility changed the swing-set forever. Now, you could stay there as long as you liked, IF you kept your legs crossed.
This was especially disadvantageous to me as I always took so long to finish my work and was usually the last one out to recess. Thus I was often on the receiving end of the “Applesauce” line. Although it was technically against the rules to use that line, telling on the person was a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong, I had absolutely no problem being a tattle-tale, but when I would leave to go tell the aid on duty, the perpetrator would flee the swings and someone else would get on. I would begin to count on the next person, to which they would reply, “ABC don’t count on me, criss-cross applesauce!” and the cycle would start all over again. Luckily (I guess), I was a late social bloomer and by the time I was in fourth grade, everyone else was tired of the swings so my friend (just the one) and I had them all to ourselves. Anyone younger than us could be turned away with the old “Applesauce” trick.
Another childhood dynamic that I, as an only child for many years, didn’t discover until my sisters came along, was the “calling” phenomenon. Until I was eight, I always got to sit wherever I wanted to in the car, choose the TV show, and play with whatever toys I wanted. But by the time I was 16 I had an eight and a five-year old sister going at it, arguing about who had the Polly Pockets first, whether they were going to watch The Lion King or Aladdin, and who got to sit where in the car. This conflict was always resolved by the phrase, “I called it!” If you called it first, you were the one who got the privilege. This wouldn’t have been an issue if my parents hadn’t honored the “I call it” rule with unmatched stringency. But as they did, I was reduced to “calling it” before my sisters did, so that I could keep my previous advantage of sitting in the coveted “shotgun” position (this is back before you had to be 12 to sit in the front seat). I should have gotten it because my legs were longer than theirs, not to mention the fact that I was 8 and 11 years older than they were. But as my parents often reminded me, life is not fair.
No, no it is not. Not even when you fervently exclaim, “No cuts, no buts, no coconuts!” will justice be served.