Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weekend warriors

The ninja warrior glided with cat-like moves across the delicately swinging foot bridge under the cover of inky darkness with such silence that not even the air stirred around him.

The long drop to the rocky gorge below did not cause him alarm. With each careful step, he crept closer and closer and closer to his unsuspecting prey until finally he was only a single breath away.

He slowly raised his sword, a hint of light reflected off its surface, and with a brief pause he savored this glorious moment.

Then with one final move he steeled his muscles, screamed, “AAAHHHH YAAAAHHHH!!!!!” and delivered the fatal blow, knocking his opponent over the side of the bridge, banishing him to the rushing torrent of water in the river far below.

He raised a fist and shouted his triumph with another loud, “YAAAHH!”

Then silence.

“What the hell is he doing down there?” I asked my husband after hearing our 4-year-old’s battle cry echo from the basement.

We tiptoed down the stairs and peeked around the corner. There in the middle of the room, our son stood gripping a Wii remote with eyes glued to the television in front of him. One after one, his opponents advanced with swords raised, preparing to attack with great ferociousness.

He raised the remote, which through the wonders of a superior technology only M.I.T. graduates can understand magically transformed him into a sword-wielding ninja.

With great velocity he began swinging it back and forth with enough speed to break the sound barrier or at least give the appearance he was suffering from a seizure grand enough to bring down a T-rex.

He even spun around in a 360-degree move that rivaled anything Bruce Lee ever threw at a bad guy.

My jaw dropped in astonishment, and my husband laughed, “He’s got style, doesn’t he?” He puffed out his chest in a testosterone-filled way and added, “I think he gets that from me.”

And, uh, that’s when I snorted so hard one of my sinuses went flying out my nose.

Well, not really. But you get the picture. I snorted. Hard. And not in a really enjoyable way one does when you have a cold and a good snort clears out the sinuses in a Wow! I can breathe again kinda way.

But things got really interesting when my husband and his brother soon joined in on the ninja fun.

Because one has not lived until seeing two 40-something males go at it with Wii remotes and a matter of family pride on the line.

It was kinda like watching gorillas at the zoo. Except primates are a bit more behaved.

“Come and get me,” one taunted.

Swish. Followed by a loud smack.

“You like that? Huh? You like getting kicked in your big fat - OH S#&! - I spilled my beer!” hollered the other one.

“Screw your beer! You’re going down! AHH-YAH!” preceded an elbow to the chest, knocking his adversary over onto the couch.

“Oh, you wanna play like that, do you?!” he yelled and swung hard. SMACK. “You fight like an old lady!”

“Don’t talk about our mother that way!” the other hollered and defended the move with a quick cross-check, bravely protecting the valor of his little video self on the screen. Then he screamed, “HOLY S---! I pulled a hamstring! I pulled a hamstring!” and collapsed onto the rug into a spasm of grief and tears.

But his opponent held no pity. “DIE! DIE! DIE!” he screamed and slashed and smashed his remote back and forth, sending the other’s character flying into the air and over the edge of a tall cliff. A tiny scream was heard through the speakers, and then all was silent.

He awkwardly arose from the couch, huffing and puffing from exertion, and stumbled over to look down at his enemy (still lying prone on the floor and moaning) only to lose his balance, fall over and land in a heap next to him.

“Hey, you found my beer,” he said with happiness...then passed out.

As my son and I walked up the stairs he asked, “Is that what I look like when I play, Mommy?”

“Oh, no, kiddo,” I quickly assured him. “You got style.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cumulonimbus is a funny word

Being a parent is about loving your child.

Nurturing them. Providing a safe place to live and food for the table. Giving them opportunities to grow, sharing in their education, teaching them values like respect and compassion.

Insert not-so-ladylike-snort here.

At least that’s what all the manuals say. Not that I’d know. They’re propping up the wobbly table in the basement at the moment.

With a few years of parenting under my belt, I’ve come to one major conclusion: parenting is all about Making Stuff Up.

As I drove our four-year-old to preschool one morning amidst a downpour, he asked, “Why does it rain?”

I sighed. Why did I give birth to the inquisitive child who wants to know everything about everything? What is with this weird obsession to understand this crazy world around him?

It’s just plain wrong.

Why couldn’t he ask me about Scooby Doo?! I have friggin’ Ph.D. in Scooby Doo!

But, alas, no. Mr. Science wants to know about the weather. So that little dial in my mind clicked back to Mr. Gordon’s seventh-grade science class in order to ascertain the proper answer.

Phrases like “barometric pressure” and “cumulonimbus clouds” popped out.

Hee-hee, I thought. Cumulonimbus is a funny word. I wonder how they came up with that one. Sounds like you have a mouth full of rocks and are trying to say, “Come, lay on my bus.”

Oh, I bet that probably means something dirty in Vegas.

A loud “MOMMY!” shouted from the backseat snapped me back from my quickly derailing thoughts and reminded me about the task at hand.

Rain. We were talking about rain.

“Well, kiddo,” I began. “When clouds get too full of water…they start to leak.”

Without missing a beat, my son responded with excitement, “Oh, so it’s like they gotta pee!”

Somewhere, Mr. Gordon’s head just exploded.

“Uh, yes. That is correct,” I answered.

He’s so gonna flunk preschool.

***

And then there are times you wish you could make stuff up but understand there are some things you just don’t mess with.

And that’s when it gets complicated.

“How did Jesus die?” my son asked during bedtime prayers one evening.

“He died on the cross, remember? Like the one we see at church,” I answered.

“Yeah, I know that,” Mr. Know-it-all responded. “But how did he die?”

Oh. My.

Yikes. My brain shifted into overdrive. How do you tell a four-year-old about using spikes to stake another human being through his arms and legs to a wooden cross and leaving him to suffer a slow, agonizing and painful death?

I’m thinking the right answer here is: you don’t.

“Well, it’s a little complicated,” I said then stopped, stalling and searching for the right words and getting nothing.

OK, God, I could use a little help here. Do I say they used Super Glue or duct tape? Oh, that seems more than a little sacrilegious. He’ll be at school telling all his friends, “Hey, guess what I heard? Jesus was duct-taped to the cross! My mommy said so!”

And I’d certainly be headed for the fiery gates of hell upon my death, provided the Big Guy didn’t strike me down with a lightening bolt right then and there.

So, no. Not duct-tape.

Or Super Glue. That just seems messy.

So I just went with the truth but prettied it up as best one could, considering the situation. “They used…nails, honey.” I winced, gritted my teeth and prepared for the worst.

He sat for a moment, pondering my words and finally shook his head in acceptance.

Whew. My shoulders slumped in relief.

Thank. You. God. I could finally relax.

“Now about this Santa Claus guy….”