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Play Nice

By January Ornellas

Years ago, it was Ms. Tanya, the preschool director, who would frequently contact us about an “incident.”

These incidents usually involved our then 2-year-old daughter, Quincey, gnawing on a classmate.

Ms. Tanya would sigh and hand us a paper titled ALL ABOUT MY DAY.

Where other children’s papers told of toddler triumphs, ours read more like a police report:

“At 2:45 p.m., while playing in Mr. Rhino’s Reading Room, Quincey bit a friend on the left cheek.”

On the verge of tears, I’d apologize before Little Hannibal and I would slink out in shame.

Correction: I would slink out in shame. 

Quincey would smile and wave to all her “friends.”

They’d smile back, waving their freshly bitten limbs.

Such a forgiving bunch.

Fortunately, after numerous reports, calls and special meetings, Quincey eventually grew tired of toddler flesh.

At the time, I remember thinking, Thank God, I’ll never have to go through that again.

But here we are, 25 years later, and the director, Ms. Colleen, just called a meeting.

“Your dad, Don, is so social,” Ms. Colleen said, as my husband, Steve, and I entered her office. “I love how involved he is with all the games.”

We nodded and waited for the ‘but.’

“But,” Ms. Colleen sighed, “he’s refusing to let people play on his Cornhole team.”

An hour later, we had lunch with Don in the Belmont Senior Living Dining Room. 

“Dad, you have to let everyone play,” Steve explained.

“That’s a stupid rule,” Don grumbled. “Some of them can’t even throw a beanbag.” He pointed his cane at Judy, a silver-haired lady at the next table.

She glared at him over her cup of Sanka.

Clearly, there was bad blood between these two.

“There’s a tournament with the other assisted living places,” Don said. “Tony and I could win it all.”

Rumor has it Tony has his own beanbags, so, Sunrise Senior Center, you’ve been warned.

Ms. Colleen called us several more times as tempers continued to run hot on the Over 80 Cornhole Circuit.

Don accused Bob, the young hotshot (he’s 81), of using beanbags that were two ounces under regulation weight.

Bob retaliated by telling everyone that Don steps over the line when he throws.

That altercation resulted in the two of them coming to blows.

And when I say “blows,” I mean they both blew angrily into their handkerchiefs.

Meanwhile, Scrabble season started last night.

Don swears it was Judy who threw the first tile.

Ms. Colleen would like to meet with us tomorrow.

It would be so much easier if they just bit each other.

— January Ornellas

January is a humor writer whose stories include everything from triathlons to colonoscopies. (She didn’t receive a medal for either.) Her work has appeared in the LA Times, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Laughter is the Best Medicine and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Too Funny! (April 2022). When she’s not writing for her blog,, she enjoys running, traveling and spending time with her family.

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