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  • Kyle’s daddy was a Marine Colonel. His first grade journal pages for weekend news were full color pictures of hunting trips. He brought baggies of biltong for snack. Chewed and explained seriously how they dried the strips of impala and eland and warthog to make it. As eager for attention and affection as a puppy, he always offered me the choicest strips.

    I’d walk in at free choice at the end of the day and he’d always be in dress up, sometimes in a fireman’s red hat, sometimes a policeman’s cap, and sometimes in a ballerina’s frilly pink tutu.

    At Mr Bear circle others kids shared toys, stuffed animals and lost teeth. Kyle brought CNN highlights.

    We shared a counsellor with the school’s main campus in Johannesburg. Ms Nancy came over once a month or so to do character lessons with the kids. She started every lesson by asking if the kids remembered who she was.

    The focus for that month was conflict resolution. She sat first grade in a circle on the carpet and talked about how important it was work together to solve problems. She led them through carefully choreographed and sequenced steps in her model of collaboration and respect and friendship.

    Kyle squirmed.

    Finally he raised his hand.

    Yes Kyle, said Ms Nancy.

    Well, said Kyle matter-of-factly. Sometimes you just got to fight for what you believe. Thing is you just don’t want it to go nuclear.
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