Life's Lessons

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The traditional, if obsolete, lolly-scramble reflects real life.

Submitted: February 18, 2017

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Submitted: February 18, 2017



Back in the day, at school or Sunday school picnics, Christmas parades or any mass gatherings where there were children, the highlight of the day was the lolly-scramble. Other countries may well have similar events, using sweets, candy or pipi. These were well-meaning affairs were adults, Father Christmas or even a helicopter tossed out sweets for the kids to madly dash after to scoff or to collect as many as they could. Of course these days the practice is banned because of resource consent – don’t you know, a kid could have an eye damaged, or the grass may be contaminated with dog poo and of course, sugar is a rotter of teeth! Compliance issues you see!

If you look at it critically, those lolly-scramble were a mirror real life, which showed that while the organisers and ‘throwers’ were well-meaning, there is no real democracy. In retrospect the ideal would have been to have the kids line up to dole out to each kid and equal share – do away with competition.

At the school picnic, the lollies are tossed onto the field by the headmaster and the kids scrambled!

Little Wendy held back, she didn’t want to rush in! She wore glasses with sticking plaster over on lens to correct a ‘lazy eye’. She had learned her lesson. Earlier in the year when she was getting used to her glasses, they slipped off her nose and Trevor stomped on them! Well, nevertheless, the headmaster ruled it a fair enough accident, but Dad scolded at her for not being careful enough and for having no regard for expense!

Malcolm was the tubby boy of the school and he rushed in, shovelling as many lollies into his mouth as he could. But he had struck a couple of really chewy ones and stood there oblivious of the chaos around him. He stood in the one place, cheeks full of lollies, concentrating on his chewing, chewing, chewing because his mouth was full and he had difficulty in breathing! He would be choosier next time and find some softer ones.

Tim, most called him ‘Timmy’ because he was small and timid. He too stood back watching, but on the edge of the crowd, a little frightened about the chaos that was ensuing. His father, who was becoming more and more frustrated at Tim’s, quiet nature, called to him to get stuck in or he would miss out. Tim didn’t hear, the next thing he felt the huge push that was his father, propelling him into the throng. He fell face down and spent the rest of the time on his knees.

Selina, the school’s tomboy (she hated her name and tried to make everyone call her ‘Lina’) didn’t really like sweet things, but she sure wasn’t going to let the boys push her out of the way! She was fast and filled her pockets, and once they were full, she began distributing them among kids who looked like they had missed out. Tim was one of the recipients and he smiled his thanks. Lina just gave him a curt nod.

Gordon, there was always something about Gordon. He was quick around the field, being choosy about which lollies he picked up. He particularly liked the wrapped toffees. Soon his pockets were full and the rest he stuffed down his shirt. Gordon’s intention as usual was to hide the lollies somewhere in his room and when nobody had any left, her would bring one at a time out and spend time savouring in front of whoever was nearby, making them envious, he liked that!

Trevor was the tough boy of the school. Of course when he bent down to collect his lollies, most of the kids kept well out of his way! But toughies always have their henchmen, he had three and they stayed close to him all the time, feeding off his charisma. As usual, after the event, Trevor inspected his henchmen’s collection, taking from them the choicest for himself, leaving them the rag-tag leftovers.

Judith and Ruth might as well have been twins, but they were inseparable friends. Both wore plaits and were Wednesday Addams lookalikes down to the black sweater and white blouse. They had planned this since they knew there was to be a lolly-scramble. Bags were not allowed but they had bags secured under their skirts that could be filled from their pockets. They picked up anything and everything with the plan to sort them into lots so that at a later time they could profit be selling them to sugar-dependent kids.

Oscar was the sly one of the school. He had his lackeys too, these two he had caught cheating about their homework so he had threatened to report them. That was ages ago but the pair were still in his ‘employ’ mostly doing as they were told.  No way was Oscar going to be seen demeaning himself by collecting lollies when his men were going to do it for him! He just stood there looking for the areas where the lollies were the most plentiful and by a wave of the arm, directed his men there. He allowed his men to keep ten percent!

The rest were the run-of-the-mill kid-on-the-block, trying to collect on a random basis as much as they could, with no intention to be fair. Some more eager than others. Of course they had to keep out of the way of Trevor’s henchmen and Oscar’s lackeys. If they found themselves in the way, boy or girl they were elbowed away!

Did anyone learn from this? No, the headmaster puffed his chest at being seen as generous, although it was the school committee that raised the funds. He thought the distribution was even and fair. Neither kids nor parents noticed the agendas of the greedy, sly, or shrewd, and none cared about the less-confident. The lolly-scramble was deemed a success, of course it was!

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