A few years ago, having just moved into a new neigborhood in Olathe, a friendly neighbor ventured over to have a visit with me. I remember it was a beautiful spring day, and I was enjoying working in the yard while the boys chased each other around the house decked out in coonskin caps, engaging in a series of battles with their cap guns and rifles from Bass Pro Shop.
This kind neighbor made it her mission to inform me that day that she disagreed with boys having toy guns because it encourages violence. She went on to explain that swords were okay, but guns were a "no-no." (Um, okay, that makes perfect sense, since sword fighting is a completely non-violent engagement. I mean, let's not be unreasonable here.) Standing up from my freshly planted hydrangea, and configuring my most tactful response, I happened to gaze across the street only to see her son narrowing his sights down the barrel of his carefully crafted tree-branch rifle. I'm not sure if he was aiming at my little Davy Crockets or his mom.
Thanks to the little squirt's rebellious honesty, no response was necessary. I think I may have invited her to sit on the porch for a little therapeutic margarita. Isn't it fascinating how you can raise boys in a home void of cable television and video games, and they still, no matter what, will fashion an impressive artillery collection out of popsicle sticks and tree branches? Go ahead, give them chess pieces or a basket of crafty things - they will still find a way to turn them into a weapon. Crazy, huh?
God has wisely wired into the nature of every man an instinct and desire to provide and protect, and those instincts begin at birth, and will quickly be followed by a coon skin cap and pop guns. Or tree branches if your mom hates pop guns.
The youngest of my tribe still love the costume box overflowing with capes and badges, spurs and plastic pistols. But, the older two, especially Benedict, are ready to move on to more skill-oriented adventures, such as hunting (which they are amazingly good at) and paintball. Yep, you read me right - PAINTBALL!!
A couple of weeks ago, he asked a bunch of his friends to come out to the farm for a paintball war. It was kind of a late birthday gathering. Steve and the boys crafted an amazing course at the site of an empty pond just east of the farm. The surrounding trees, stacks of hay bales and a few old rusty oil barrels made for an excellent course.
All of the boys were divided up into two teams.
At first, everyone was content just to hunker down behind the hay bales and shoot from a safe place.
Then, to my surprise, the first one to break out into the open was Benedict, my often shy and very reserved oldest son.
I was delighted to see him bolt out from behind safe cover with so much skill and determination! I think his friends might have been a little surprised too!
The first game of "Capture the Flag" was just what the boys needed to set the pace for the rest of the afternoon. After that, everyone was ready to engage in the battle!
Even the dads couldn't resist a father-son shoot out!
I'm not so sure that this dad knew exactly what he was in for....
He had some not-so-pretty battle wounds to show off afterwards. (I love that after 11 years, he still feels that one of his great priveleges in our marriage is to impress me. So charming!)
I was very thankful that Steve built a holding area for the spectators and those who were sitting out. It took the risk out of taking pictures for me as well.
The set up gave us a front and center opportunity to watch the boys in action.Despite being surrounded by friends, Benedict was more than happy to have his brothers along for the ride, especially Andrew...
who wasn't afraid to get out there with the "older guys."He also wasn't afraid to climb up the pond banks to the reload station ready to be awarded bragging rights for the most paint ball hits in one battle!
There is so much joy in making memories....be it paintball or pancake breakfasts. I have a mental scrapbook packed with events such of these, overflowing with gratitude and joy.
After two hours of intense competition, it was time to surrender to the snacks.Everyone gathered round for bowls heaping high with happy - buckets of cold ice cream and a plethora of tasty toppings suited everyone just fine.
Charlie was my dose of sugar. We kept him close. No coonskin cap for you, yet, honey! But soon, all too soon, I know you will want to wear one too!