Last night I showed the kids this amazing video by a special effects company. About halfway through JB was like, um are you sure our children should be seeing a bunch of guys screaming and on fire and shit? but I thought it was a pretty good way to understand how the intense stuff in movies isn’t real. Riley was particularly mesmerized by the idea of building entire virtual worlds and layering in details (he kept comparing it to Minecraft) (which is sort of funny, being as how Minecraft pretty much looks like you’ve jetted back in time to 1976 in order to play Breakout), but I think he was even more inspired by the battle scenes. Not the guys on fire part — I hope — but the epic explosions and whatnot. As I was driving him to school today I kept hearing muffled warfare-noises from the backseat. “Neeerrrrooowwwkapooosh,” “Powpowpowpowpowpow,” “KaPEWWWW,” etc.

This actually par for the course with Riley. He’s the exact opposite of a violent kid but there is a near-constant stream of gunfire sounds coming from him whenever he’s entertaining himself. Usually he’s holding a toy or Lego and frowningly carrying out some complicated military operation, and sometimes, like this morning, he’s just gazing out the window while dry-firing his imaginary weapons.

Have I told you how a young neighbor girl comes home with us after school during the week? I get a kick out of her because she’s as rough and tumble as the boys, but totally obsessed with different stuff. Horses and nail polish, mostly.

Anyway, there he was, kabooshing away, and usually I tell him to give me a goddamned goshdarned break from the artillery but instead I cupped my hand over my mouth and said “KSSSHT. Pilot to bombardier, pilot to bombardier, we’re nearing the target, do you read, over?” I peeked in the rearview mirror, and he was frozen, staring back at me with visible waves of delight beaming out from his entire body.

The rest of the way to school the three of us radioed commands back and forth. We released missiles, deployed revolver cannons, and wiped out entire cities of bad guys. Dylan got very excited and maybe a little confused, shouting “THERE’S AN OCTOPUS!” at one point. I drove into the pull-through lane and announced that ksssht, we’re coming in for a landing, and Riley wanted to know if we could please play the game again tomorrow, PLEASE? I said maybe, maybe. Before I drove away, I rolled down the window and said, “Nice work out there, soldier.” And he stood on the walkway in front of his school and damned if he didn’t snap off a perfect salute, with a grin that lit up the grey December sky like a big beautiful computer-generated fireball.


47 Responses to “WarGames”

  1. Rachel on December 19th, 2013 3:52 pm

    Totally going to do this. Great parenting tip thank you!

  2. Pete on December 19th, 2013 4:08 pm

    That was a great video.

  3. Nicole on December 19th, 2013 4:14 pm

    Love!! You’re a great mom!

  4. Judy on December 19th, 2013 4:31 pm

    You da Mom!

  5. Redbecca on December 19th, 2013 4:49 pm

    Aww that kicked ass!! Great post!

  6. Heather S. on December 19th, 2013 5:21 pm

    Love this!

  7. Karen on December 19th, 2013 6:19 pm

    And you know he will remember that for years…Someday he & Dylan will be talking about things they did when they were “younger” and Riley will pipe up and say “Do you remember when mom did that soldier ‘stuff’ in the car with us on the way to school?” Totally awesome!!

  8. Meadow on December 19th, 2013 8:05 pm

    Yeah! Mom FTW! Nice work, Linda.

  9. Niki on December 19th, 2013 8:36 pm

    This is the best! Good job Mom.

  10. Victoria on December 19th, 2013 8:47 pm


  11. Faith on December 19th, 2013 11:35 pm

    I really think the key to life for me is to construct my circumstances so that I’m able to be relaxed and patient enough, at least most of the time, to do stuff like this with my kids. To pull myself out of my own stressed out world and live in theirs for a second. I know we’d all be happier that way, but still I fight it time and time again. Thanks for the inspiration.

  12. el-e-e on December 20th, 2013 7:00 am

    Brilliance. I am a little choked up!

  13. Karin on December 20th, 2013 7:01 am

    Lovely, lovely story and what an awesome way to start their day!

    Years ago, my youngest was having a crummy school year. In order to get him out of bed in the morning, I woke him up using a different accent/funny voice with a crazy story every day. It culminated in the Queen of England (complete with tiara) waking him up on the last day of school. There was a whole long backstory. (She’d lost a poker bet with her butler, so he sent her to do wake up.) We still laugh about it–usually with him shaking his head.

    It is the small silly stuff they remember years later–not the big holiday productions, not the huge vacations, but the small everyday stuff that is meaningful to them.

  14. Sarah on December 20th, 2013 7:13 am

    You’re so awesome. That is all.

  15. Anna on December 20th, 2013 7:18 am

    Dammit, that made me cry. I love those moments, and find it so hard to break out of the day to day slog seize them.

  16. Jennifer on December 20th, 2013 7:42 am

    Made me tear up a bit too. Sweet story.

  17. Amy Pollak on December 20th, 2013 8:22 am

    Beautiful story, beautiful writing (as always).

  18. Laurelie on December 20th, 2013 8:27 am

    Warm fuzzy feelings! It’s always amazing when something so small ends up being such a big thing!

  19. C on December 20th, 2013 8:44 am

    That is so cute I cried.

  20. June on December 20th, 2013 9:18 am

    High five! WTG.

  21. Maggie on December 20th, 2013 9:38 am

    This post made me a bit teary. It is all too easy to tell the kids to stop with the racket, or in my case, quit talking my ear off about so and so at school, but just engaging with them can make all the difference in the world and I forget that sometimes (or most of the time). We all want to be heard, just sometimes we don’t want to listen when we should.

  22. dorrie on December 20th, 2013 10:05 am

    Oooof. Right in the feels. A+

  23. Laura on December 20th, 2013 10:22 am

    Such a great idea. Gold star to you for embracing their interests in such a fun way.

  24. Alyssa on December 20th, 2013 11:26 am

    I too have a boy that seems to be constantly making pshew pshew sounds as he plays. I usually watch and think how foreign boys can seem, as I grew up with no brothers. But the way you engaged with him is so great! Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Jess on December 20th, 2013 11:38 am

    This was awesome. A+ parenting right there. And what a damn reminder that I have to pull my head out of ass sometimes and engage in activity like this. Seems I spend too much time begging for “one damn minute of silence”! Totally awesome Linda!

  26. Liz on December 20th, 2013 1:28 pm

    Not going to lie… I just teared up a little reading your post. I needed this reminder today. You are awesome. Merry Christmas!

  27. Emma on December 20th, 2013 2:21 pm

    And it was FREE! Probably made both of your days (as well as all of us readers’)…awesome way to create a world you both can enjoy.

  28. simon on December 20th, 2013 5:53 pm

    This is a good reminder. I’ve been forgetting recently to make things fun for my boys.

    Thanks, man.

  29. Janet on December 22nd, 2013 6:21 pm

    Love, love this. This is what I do when I’m teaching my social groups full of quirky kids….as one Mom said, “You’re awesome because you don’t put their genie all the way back in the bottle.”

  30. Trish on December 22nd, 2013 10:06 pm

    I have a 12 year old that would have loved that when he was younger too. What a great mom!

  31. Melissa on December 23rd, 2013 9:21 am

    Okay it’s not very tough of me but that whole post made me want to cry. There’s no crying in warfare!

  32. Kami on December 25th, 2013 3:53 am

    Such a little thing to us, but huge to them. I need to do it more often. Great post.

    Merry Christmas to your family :-)

  33. Anais on January 4th, 2014 7:57 am

    This made me smile, cry and laugh with the bit about Dylan’s octopus. Great job, mom!

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