"Here Ren, look, it goes far! What's his name? It's Ren, right? REN! He's so cute! Look at me! REN! Look! Can you do this?! Come over here, Ren! Can I have that? Give me the ball, Ren. He's not very good at catching is he?"
"Well, he's not even two..."
"I'm Allison. I have a brother. He's two. He's got diapers. I'm four. I have a brother who's eleven. Gail is six. She can't talk."
"Oh. Is she your..."
"Hi Ren! Here. Look. Put this in your mouth like this. Ew. No, don't."
"Ren— Don't— Not in your mouth, honey. Ren— No."
"I didn't go to school this week. I was sick. So's my dad in the car. I don't see my mom anymore. Are you Ren's mom?
"Yes, I am. I think we need to..."
"Come on, Ren. Get the ball!. He's slow isn't he? I know, he's only two. My brother is faster than him. What's that on his ear? Do you have a juice box? Ren, look here. I've got your ball over here! Now it's over there! Go get it! I'm thirsty. Ren! Look at me!"
I took Ren and his new baseball to the playground. Fifteen minutes later we were back in the car; Ren wistfully repeating Allison's name, me biting clean through my tongue.
It's nature's wisdom that allots a few years before puberty, and humanity's, even more years before marriage. The single most important reason for this is to grant mothers of boys enough time to untie the knots in the apron strings. And lessen the instinct to pepper spray little girl's faces.