Waterloo in the backyard

Our neighborhood does not contain a whole lot of children.

We did not know that fact when we chose to purchase this home. We (like all the really old folks surrounding us) were lured in by the siren song of the HOA paying for lawn care and snow removal. It has been nice living here, in spite of the guilt I feel when I see all of our 90-year-old neighbors vacuuming their lawns for six hours a day, while my yard sits as the one blight on the street, shamefully un-vacuumed.

And mine the one back literally strong enough to do it. Go figure.

But the kids do not lack for friends. There is a neighborhood adjoining ours that is full of playmates, and at least several days per week there are strangers' offspring rooting around in my pantry for after-school snacks. It's great and I love it.

There is one boy, however, who lives down the street and - for reasons unfathomable to me - hates my children. We have invited him over countless times, and each time our invitation has been met with an excuse about the important date he has with his video games. Shrugging our shoulders, we moved on to other friends, and have not mourned the loss of his company.

The problem with this kid is that he is constantly challenging the neighborhood boys to duels of physicality. A baseball pitching contest. A basketball tournament. A foot race. These challenges are always issued with insults and spite -- and he has yet to win any of them.

He reminds me slightly of Napoleon (Bonaparte, that is, not Dynamite). He is short, angry, and determined to conquer the world and everyone in it.

The problem with the war he is waging on McKay lies with me. I have this innate psycho need to be liked. And to have my children liked. I can't fathom what we have done to offend him, and feel that he must be brought to reason. He MUST not know how awesome we are, otherwise he could not possibly dislike us. Surely, he has just not looked closely at our strengths of character, wit, and charm. I mean, we are likable people! We are funny! We are charming! We I have issues!

I am constantly interjecting into the strategy conferences between McKay and his allies that maybe all Napoleon needs is to be invited over for cookies and ice cream.

These suggestions are met with blank stares and questions regarding my sanity.

Apparently, war is not resolved over homemade chocolate chip cookies.

It is decided on the basketball court with a very short, hateful boy named Napoleon who does not like me my children.

And it is okay.

Or so they tell me, while I sit rocking in the corner mumbling, "But why? Why doesn't he like me?"

Don't worry. I'll be all right. Eventually.