Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pistols At Dawn

As I stood out there on the asphalt, light rain falling intermittently, I watched the children play: up the hill, down the hill, in circles, always smiling, sometimes laughing. It was the first day of Spring Break, and my son had assembled eight of his friends on the yard at his middle school for some Nerf combat. It was ten in the morning, and I was standing in the drizzle watching kids play. Suddenly I didn't miss work so much. There were some differences, not the least of which was the relatively few times I was asked to tie anyone's shoe. During your average school day I get asked at least a half dozen times to correct some lace aberration or other. This group of middle schoolers seemed to have a pretty solid handle on their footwear. Most of them, my son included, seemed to prefer Velcro to shoe laces in the first place, and dodging incoming foam rubber bullets kept them from being too concerned with what happened to their feet. I was also impressed by the attention span these kids seemed to have. They played hard for nearly three hours without much of a break in the action. They had some rice crackers and a tangerine or two, but mostly they lived and died in a hail of small arms fire. Every so often there was a rueful whine of complaint. "I got you!" "No you didn't." "I got you in the leg!" "You did not!" And so on. Until noon. Then, as if a bell had rung somewhere in the distance, they began to collect up their weapons and spent ammo and began heading for the parking lot. They were done. How could this be? No complaining? No pleas for just five more minutes? It was lunchtime, and like Napoleon's army moved on its stomach, peace had broken out on account of pizza. We trooped on home and began our vacation anew.

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