Monday, August 31, 2015

That's Gonna Leave a Mark

My husband is the youngest of three boys in his family. He grew up in a house full of boxing gloves (the real kind), hiking boots and soldering irons. They built club houses and went duck hunting. It was all testosterone, all the time. I grew up with two sisters and a brother. Our family was more about building forts inside than outside. You can thank the blazing heat of Oklahoma for that. During the Indian Summers, the only thing that would draw us outside was the lure of banana popsicles from the neighborhood ice cream truck. So I think it's fair to say I was a bit unprepared for how boys find ways to stave off boredom. More than once, my husband would say, "Don't worry about it. Let them play. That's just how boys are."

Boys seem to have a crazy, wonderful way of adding peril to everything they do. I remember one day in Austin, looking out the back window while I was washing dishes. My oldest boys were about 12 and 9 years old at the time. Reagan was standing at complete attention while Ian was about 30 feet away. They were laughing hysterically at each other. (Word to the wise here- when boys are laughing this way at one another, ALWAYS check it out. This kind of hilarity invariably ends with a visit to the Emergency Room.) As I was drying my hands, I saw Ian wind up and pitch something straight at Reagan's body. It whizzed right past his ear by inches. They both fell out laughing like crazy people. I rushed to the door, opened it and hollered, "Hey! What are you boys doing??!"

They were laughing so hard they could barely answer me, so I said it again in my "I Mean It" voice. "Hey! What in the world is going on out here?" Ian finally caught his breath and managed to put a few words together. "It's no big deal, Mom," he said. "We're just playing Pain Ball."

 "Pain Ball"?!!? I beg your pardon?? I was almost too afraid to ask.  But when you're the mama, that's your job, ladies- you have to ask. So for those of you without boys, here are the rules of this game as they were explained to me.

  1. Stand at least 30 feet away from your opponent.
  2. Each player gets a turn to throw a ball at each other.
  3. If the opponent moves, they lose a point.
  4. If the player hits the opponent, they win a point.

I must have had a baffled look on my face, because Reagan piped up with these words to comfort me. "It's okay, Mom. So far, he's only hit me once. See?" To prove his point, he pulled up his shirt and showed me a red mark the size of a lime on his chest. The kid had an enormous smile on his face- so proud of himself he could almost bust. I turned to Ian and told him we were done with this game.  As in, totally done for all time with this game. Both their faces fell like I had told them there was no Christmas this year.  They stared at me in stunned silence- until Ian, ever the negotiator, offered this compromise.  "If we quit using golf balls, can we still play?"

Yep. That's just how boys are.

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