Jed limped over to where his son knelt on the ground. The boy was chattering nonstop as only a four-year-old could. “What’re you doing, Caden?” Jed asked softly. When the boy didn’t answer, he added, “It must be really interesting if you’d rather be here doing it than playing with Ling and James.”

“They wanted to squish ‘em,” Caden said softly. “I push’ded Ling an’ now he’s mad.”

“Did you hurt Ling?” Jed asked, tilting his head so he could meet his son’s eyes. He hadn’t been far away but he’d missed the altercation. He might have been helping Chloe on the swing when it happened or even weeding in the garden.

“No, he’s mad though.” Caden looked up a bit sadly and added, “I know it’s not nice to push, but he was going to squish ‘em an’ even though I said not to he still wanted to do it.”

“What was he going to squish?” Jed asked.

“The ants. Mommy said ants are helpful if they’re outside. I tried to tell Ling but he just wanted to squish ‘em.” He looked down and added, “Now James won’t play with me either.”

“Maybe you should say your sorry to Ling for pushing him,” Jed offered. “It was nice of you to protect the ants but you upset your friends.”

Caden nodded and bounded over to the fence line where the other boys were playing. The apology took moments and, as with most four-year-old sized dramas, the matter was quickly forgotten. Jed looked down at the anthill his son had protected and smiled. How would the world be if everyone was as fervent about protecting the weak as a four-year-old guarding an anthill?

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