Observations on Kindergartenia
I’m currently working through a book of daily writing prompts. One of the prompts I got a few days ago was the following: “Imagine a society ruled solely by children under the age of ten. What might the laws be?” That became the inspiration for this quick little scene.
The delegates sent by the newest member of the UN turned out to be younger than expected. Quite a bit younger, in fact.
The American delegate could not stop staring at the group. “This can’t be legal…where are they supposed to be from, again?”
“Kindergartenia,” the British delegate told him.
“Oh, of course they are.”
On the other side of the reception hall, the trio of small children took note of the men gawking at them. They didn’t stare back very long: it seemed they were more interested in paying attention to each other than to anyone else. The two boys wore jackets and bow ties, while the girl wore a simple pink dress with a hairband to match. Each of them stood up straight and held their chin high, as if knowing they belonged in the room.
“How old are they?” the American delegate asked his colleagues.
This time the Canadian delegate spoke up. “Well, the curly-haired one, Franz something, he’s eight.”
“None of them can be older than ten. That’s the law over there, you know. Their President stepped down last week because he turned eleven.”
The American snorted. “Hell of a way to run a country. It’s absurd.”
“Actually,” said his British companion, “they do quite well for themselves. Few valuable natural resources in that part of the world, but they have a tradition of fine craftsmanship.”
“What do they export?” asked the Canadian.
“Toys, mostly. And candies. I hear their marzipan is exquisite.”
“It is an unusual country,” said the German delegate as he approached the group. “But not a bad one. I passed through there on business not long ago. The streets are quite clean, and safe at night on account of the curfew.”
“Curfew?” the American delegate said, aghast.
“The national bedtime is nine o’clock sharp for adult and child alike.”
“I’ve never gone to bed that early in my life,” said the American, sticking his chin up. “And I would give any child that tried to make me a good thrashing.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say that aloud, old boy,” said the British delegate. “It is a capital crime in that nation to harm any child. You’re put away for life if convicted, and the prisons for such sentences are most severe.”
The American raised an eyebrow. “Severe how?”
None of his companions met his eyes, but the German muttered something about straitjackets and cafeteria food.
The American looked back across the room, where the group of children still huddled together. “I bet I can coax it out of them if you give me five minutes,” he said with a smirk, and then he began to walk before his colleagues could stop him.
The Kindergartenians looked up with uneasy expressions as he approached. The curly-haired boy sighed, as though preparing himself for an ordeal.
Stopping a few feet away, the American plastered on the most saccharine smile he could manage. “Well, hello there,” he said. “I’ve got some candy we could share. What lollipop flavors do you like?”
The children’s eyes went wide with horror. The girl gasped and hid behind the curly-haired boy, who shot a withering glare at the American as the whole little group moved away.
On the other side of the room, the British delegate gawked. “What on earth was that?”
“I should have warned him,” said the German. “It’s a grave insult in their culture for strange adults to offer children candy. They won’t forget being slighted like that.”
The Canadian hid his smile. “I suppose the Americans will be in for quite the toy shortage come Christmastime…”