Sticks and Stones

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.


When my younger brother, James, was five years old, Jack Nierman bit him while they were playing in our favorite playground. I was sitting atop the monkey bars when I saw it happen. I swung down and pushed Jack away, then dragged my screaming brother over to our babysitter, Lethia. James didn't want to tell anyone what happened, so I did it for him. Even at the age of eight, I wasn't about to let Jack get away with what he'd done; it wasn't fair.

We spent a lot of time together in the playground. James developed a habit of collecting anything that resembled a weapon; sticks ("swords") were his favorite. I had to employ a great deal of negotiation to convince him to leave his sticks on the sidewalk in front of our apartment building. But I did what I had to, and I was the only one able to persuade him to part with his weapons. I started my distraction even before we rounded the corner. I always promised James that our doorman, Frank, would protect his sticks until we came back outside.

As we got older, and the park was no longer cool enough, James and I spent increasing time together indoors. Though he could be grouchy and shy around other people, James was an entertainer at home. Whenever he was...

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