Zack (12) rolled his chair into the hall when he heard Lauren (14) come home from school with her friend Colleen. He’s pretty good at keeping a poker face, but he can’t hide the twinkle in his eyes, and he usually doesn’t resist the urge to stir up a little fun.
The girls were checking online for tickets to the Nutcracker when the first volley of shots burst from Zack’s Nerf gattling gun. Colleen was caught by surprise but quickly wrestled the gun away from Zack, who escaped into his personal armory to return with another Nerf ‘weapon’ that launches foot-long missiles. The battle was on.
Bam-bam-bam! Thunk! Large and small foam projectiles flew from around corners, behind the kitchen cabinets, on the stair landing, and down the hallways. Occasional pauses in the screaming and laughter lasted just long enough to pump and reload before combat resumed. At one point Lauren was scrambling to escape from being trapped in the kitchen. She wasn’t wearing combat boots, however, and lacking good traction, she sprawled full length on the floor. There were no injuries.
Lauren and Colleen managed to escape into Lauren’s room, but Zack kept up a barrage of fire under her door. He would not let them leave until a surrender was negotiated. He didn’t have to wait too long before the girls came out waving a white flag. It was, after all, time for Colleen to get home to dinner.
* * * * *
Today I heard again that kids have lost 12 hours per week of play time since the late 1970s. That made it doubly wonderful to see these middle school kids tearing around the house in a spontaneous outburst of unstructured play. Not to make too much out of a small thing, but hearing the laughter and seeing the energy with which the kids engaged in this kind of fun strengthened my resolve to help create as many openings as possible for more of the same.