All Stories, Humour

Darwins First Day by Donald Zagardo

Characters presented in this story are purely fictional. Any resemblance to humans walking the face of this earth, today or in the past is purely coincidental.

I fear for his young, beautiful life sometimes. I know that I should calm down, stay focused, avoid stress, but Darwin is such a gentle boy, a loving, delicate child. Why does he have to go to Catholic High School? Why does he have to go to High School at all? He’s really a very smart boy and a good boy.

We did not name him Charles Darwin Macready out of malice or a lack of respect for anyone’s religious beliefs. It’s just a cool kid’s name, and he appeared immediately to be an intelligent baby. It’s a good name. I think it was my wife’s idea to name him Charles Darwin, and she would never insult anyone. She’s an angel.

Patricia does however, believe in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, in every detail including Natural Selection. That’s alright, isn’t it? She’s not a troublemaker and is an excellent wife and mother.

My boy likes basketball and soccer, but not American football. He plays chess well for his age, video games and a little pool. He is of average height and weight, is generally healthy and a good swimmer. He likes girls, especially those from the school band, where he plays clarinet. Darwin sings pretty nicely but will not join the school glee club for reasons that he has not yet made clear to me.

There was that one time; no other time, only that one time. I said to him, “What are you doing with all those school supplies Darwin?” nearly more than he could carry. He said to me straight out, a little sad but unafraid, that he had stolen them from a white Office Maxx van that was left open in the parking lot behind the Office Maxx store out by the mall, with the help of his friends Josh, Tommy and Peter. Really, that was the only time. I’m sure. My Darwin’s no thief.

Patricia and I insisted that the boys give everything back to Office Maxx the very next afternoon and made them confess and apologize to the store manager. Charles Darwin was relieved to get the guilt off his chest, I’m sure he was. We spoke for hours at home as a family, about theft and its many manifestations. He was sorry for his minor (or not so minor) infraction of the law. Charges were not pressed, but we grounded Darwin for a week. He learned his lesson alright. It never happened again. He’s a good boy.

His little sister Marie is crazy about him, and he’s really a good big brother. Sometimes when they play handball together on the garage wall, he lets her win. Marie is set to begin sixth grade in a few days. I don’t worry so much about Marie. She quickly makes friends and easily wins over even hardened adults. She’s never any trouble.

In a religious school I fear that people will pick on Charles Darwin for his scientific, evolutionary name. Tomorrow is his first day of class, and Darwin is new to Saint Matthew’s.

When he was born his mother, Patricia was only nineteen. I was twenty-one. His head was so large when it first appeared, that I feared that my sweet Patricia would not survive the birth. When we first met, she was a college freshman and I a sophomore at the same college. We met at a sorority mixer. It was love at first sight. We were too young to be married, I know. Everybody said so, but we were in love and still are.

Patricia’s mother loves Charles Darwin and Marie like they were her own. They are really good kids and they love their Grandma.

There was that little girl Alice Greenshelf. She was maybe five years old. That was a while ago; Charles Darwin was no more than eight or nine. There were no wounds or burses on Alice. She was fine. Darwin was accused by Alice and her mother and father of pulling young Alice’s dress up over her little head, then pulling her little girl panties down to her knees. Charlie said that it was Desmond’s idea. Desmond said that it was Charles Darwin’s idea. The Greenshelfs let it go with a warning or was it a threat. Alexander Greenshelf said to me, “Mister Macready, you keep your damned son away from my little daughter, or else!”

We spoke with our son, Patricia and me. He was grounded for a week and his computer and TV privileges revoked, for that week. It was just that one time. Hardly any trouble at all. It was that one time only.

At such a young age, life can get very confusing. We believe that communication is the key to a happy, respectful, loving family. We have family-group discussions every week. Marie is our little angel and Charles Darwin, well after all he is a boy.

He was a brave and adventuresome child our Darwin, who began riding his bicycle at five. I tried to teach him how to ride it, but there was no need. He simply got up on the contraption and rode away. He never fell or seemed afraid of falling. He’s such a brave boy.

Marie on the other hand, spent weeks learning to ride her big-girl bike. She fell many times, my poor baby. In the end it was Charlie Darwin who taught her how to ride. He really is a great big brother, gentle, patient, and loving.

Patricia and I never worried before, certainly not for Darwin’s physical safety. Maybe I’m a little too apprehensive. He has so much trust and love for people. I don’t want his heart broken, or anything else for that matter, not on the first day of High School. He has a bright future with a good college education and career ahead. I just know it.

When he was seven years old, playing with some older boys, Darwin fell while running after a well hit red-rubber ball, and broke his left leg. He didn’t cry nearly as much as Patricia or I would have guessed he would. Marie cried for her big brother a lot more than he did for himself. It was, thank goodness, a simple break, easily set with no complications, but still, it scared the heck out of me.

Charles Darwin is now twelve, almost thirteen. The early teens are notoriously difficult years for children and their parents, as I’m sure you know, but he is an honest and decent boy. He’s no trouble at all. When Darwin has a question, when something happens at school that he doesn’t understand, he is never afraid to ask me about it. He is a curious boy.

Maladies sure: all the expected childhood diseases; Mumps, Chickenpox, various forms of Flu. Patricia and I suffer nearly as much as our children. Little Marie spent some time in bed with Scarlet Fever but wasn’t out of school for long enough to be put back, I’m happy for that. Darwin helped in every way when Marie needed him. Patricia and I were grateful for his assistance.

For Elementary, we sent both our children to Public School. Marie has two years left before entering Saint Matthews. Although we don’t live in a very bad school district, Patricia and I feel that a good Catholic education will be beneficial for both our children.

Darwin has friends from Public School that I know he will miss. His bedroom walls are covered with pictures that he took of them. He is a pretty good photographer. Look at how happy they all look. Good friends, good kids.

Most smart kids experiment and Darwin is a smart kid. It was just that once, I’m sure. I don’t know where he got the marijuana from. He wouldn’t tell, and we really did try to find out. Darwin’s a lot tougher than he looks. We spoke with him about the danger of drugs. We explained the legal consequences of being caught smoking pot, and we grounded him for a week. We additionally forbad Charlie Darwin the use of his cell phone and from watching TV.

Public High School can be tough. I was a Public-School student throughout, but Patricia went to Catholic High School. She believes that our kids should go to a good Catholic High School and I agree. Parents can’t be too careful about their children’s education. They will thank us someday.

He did well on the Catholic High School qualifying examination. His Math and Science scores were indeed remarkable. He really is a smart boy. He taught his little sister to paddle a canoe when we vacationed at the lake last summer. She trusts him entirely, as do we.

It’s really funny when you come to think about it. His feet could hardly reach the gas or brake pedals. And there he was driving a car that looked familiar, but I could not place it at first. He was so small at the time; eight, I think. Yes, he was eight years old. At first, it looked as though the car was on fire, but it was just Charles Darwin and his friends Jason, Tommy and Peter smoking cigarettes. I yelled for them to stop, but they kept on driving down the block, then made a right onto Chestnut Street. I said a little prayer.

I waited for my son to get home. He arrived around ten-thirty, smelling like a smoker. I told him what I saw on the street and how angry I was. He confessed right there and then. The car was Peter’s fathers and the cigarettes were in the glove box when they borrowed it. We talked about smoking and the dangers associated with tobacco use. I think that he got the message. Peter would have driven his own father’s car, but he had not yet learned to drive. Darwin is very capable.

Oh, Dear God,

Please protect my beautiful son Darwin from pain and harm, keep him healthy and safe. Tomorrow is his first day at Saint Matthew’s Catholic High School. I fear that upperclassmen will pick on him for his brilliant name. Please God, he’s such a gentle boy, so sweet and kind. And God please forgive him his sins, and silly me, mine.

Your Loving, respectful servant,

Isaac Newton Macready


Donald Zagardo

Image by Circ OD from Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Darwins First Day by Donald Zagardo”

  1. It’s only natural that this fine selection should evolve. Will the boy, however, be amongst the fittest, or will he go the way of the passenger pigeon? And if he should make it out of the nunnery, will that be a good thing?


  2. Hi Donald,
    This reminds me of my thoughts when people show me their kids and state that they are beautiful. 99% of the time, they are not!
    Having so much love that makes you excuse or blind is very worrying!
    This was dark and the humour came from us knowing more than the parent wants to see.
    Clever and unsettling!


  3. Every teenager’s a bit of a Charles Darwin, testing the limits, taking risks, being aggressive, a la Lord of The Flies. Seems to treat his little sister well, though. Parents are in de Nile about human nature, that’s also a big river in Egypt. At least they’re not helicoptering about their son, like a lot of Moms and Dads these days. Fun story!


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