Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mom Flail

Boxed Mac & Cheese. Bendaroos. Mr. Bean. Chuck E. Cheese.

As a mom, I find myself embracing things that I would never have imagined. Things that make my kids happy, and for the most part, are pretty harmless.

As strange as it may sound, fighting is one of those things.

Man, my kids love to battle. They'll bludgeon each other. They'll brawl with their father. They'll play gladiator with their stuffed animals. They beg for swords and dart guns and anything that could be used as a weapon. They do karate and wrestling and boxing and sumo. Kick boxing, street fighting, fencing, and judo.

I tried outlawing it. That was about as effective as a swim diaper.

So much of their imaginative play involves conflict-- good guys vs bad guys. Whether they've invented their own characters and story or they're acting out their version of Harry Potter, Star Wars or Transformers. Enforcing a no-fighting policy would mean stifling their creativity. It would also mean continuous time-outs, a stock-pile of outlawed toys and a long list of things they're no longer allowed to play.

So I'm going with the flow as they say. But wait... this is not the same thing as lazy parenting! (Trust me, I know lazy parenting-- just ask the lady who works the drive-thru window at the local McDonalds.)

There is some structure involved. A carefully constructed plan to ensure the highest level of safety at all times. Often, this plan is what we teachers call "cross-content"-- meaning the kids are also getting educational enrichment across a variety of disciplines. Genius!

For example:

"Will, you need to let your little brother win at least half of the time." (Mathematics at work, people!)

"You cannot hit below the belt, hold, trip, kick, headbutt, wrestle, bite, spit on, or push your opponent." (We Googled the official rules for and athletics... true story!)

"Liam, you can't kick anyone there. Say you're sorry." (Anatomy and manners!)

All kidding aside, it is entirely play. There's no aggression, hate or real conflict involved. When there's real conflict involved, like deciding on a television program or sharing a toy, there's generally only screaming and crying involved. That, and my stellar conflict resolution skills, which range from patient mediation and arbitration to screaming and crying right back at them.

And in all seriousness, there is some learning to be had.

As of late, this has been's Will's weapon of choice:

It's made of foam and it's completely harmless.

Last night, we were mid-battle and I might have gotten a little carried away.

Just a little.

Will was really upset. Inconsolable. Afterall, you know how kids get so attached to their very favorite... weapon.

A few months ago, my mom had gotten this for Will from either a dollar store or the clearance section at Target. Bill and I set about finding a replacement on-line.

But what to Google?

We tried "ball and chain", but we got you know, a ball. And a chain.

And after some addtional investigation, we came up with this...

Not exactly the toy version. But the right weapon nonetheless. And it's name?

A "flail". (You really DO learn something new every day!)

We haven't found one yet, but we're on it.

We can't disappoint our little gladiator.

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