October 18, 2009

Wall Ball

I'm sitting at a picnic table at a local park with a group of kindergarten moms, some of whom I do know, most of whom I don't. We are gathered en masse to encourage our sons to burn off some energy and discuss important current events like what's on sale at Children's Place.

"What are they doing over there?" asked one of the moms, gesturing in the direction of the decrepit tennis court, where our collective offspring are gathered.

I didn't bother looking up as I was fairly certain that the answer would involve one of my sons scaling a chain link fence or poking something or someone with a long stick.

"As long as they're not over here, I don't care what they're doing!" chirped a woman named Marie as everyone else at the table stared at her with raised eyebrows.

Sensing one of my own, I instinctively scooted closer to this woman.

"That looks dangerous," observed a third mom, rising slightly out of her seat to get a closer look. When no one else joined her, she sat back down and began wringing her hands nervously.

When I finally looked up a few minutes later, I was not at all surprised to see half a dozen six-year-old boys lined up against the back wall of the tennis court. A seventh boy was standing about ten feet in front of the group. At his command, the group turned around and pressed their noses against the wall.

Marie let out a long, loud sigh and crossed her legs. "It's called Wall Ball,'" she told us, just as the boy retrieved a tennis ball from his pocket, took aim, and fired.

One of the boys was hit in the leg and started crying. Several mothers jumped to their feet.

"Since when is getting hurt 'fun'?" questioned one mother in despair.
"Who would play such a horrifically violent game?" wondered another.

It wasn't until these questions were posed that I realized why I found the game so strangely appealing; namely, it bore a striking resemblance to my favorite childhood past time, a game called Butts Up. The principle is the same, except in Butts Up, the bulls eye is an exposed butt cheek. Playing Butts Up in middle school is how I made all of my friends. It also earned me lots of detentions and a reputation as an exhibitionist.

The boy that got pelted by the ball turned out to be my son Kellen. He limped toward me and pulled up his pant's leg to reveal a quarter-sized welt on the back of his thigh.

The other mothers let out appropriately loud gasps of indignation.

"I have a first aid kit in my car!" volunteered one woman.
"I have one in my purse!" screeched another, reaching for her diaper bag.

"I got pegged with the ball," Kellen cried, pointing to his wound in between sobs.

"Isn't that the point?" I asked.

Kellen stopped crying long enough to re evaluate his goals.

"I got pegged with the ball!" he shouted exuberantly and ran back to the group, who took turns admiring the battle wound and vowing to get bigger and better ones in future rounds.

Against their mothers' wishes, the boys lined up for Round Two. Learning from their previous mistakes, they increased their chances of being hit by extending their arms and legs. Determined to catch the bouquet, my other son Cortlen wiggled his bottom as well.

My heart swelled with pride at this unprompted gesture.

Maybe there is hope for my children yet.


Parenting Ink said...

Amen to another mom letting her children PLAY. Isn't that what lion cubs do, learn about the order of things through play?
One day, it's your kid getting pelted by a ball. Tomorrow, it will be mine.
Oh, and isn't it much more fun for the moms to just sit back and not worry so much?

Rachel said...

hahahahahahahahahaha . . .

Homemaker Man said...

It's all about making sure your kids feel like winners.

How much damage can one 6 year old do with a tennis ball anyway?

Vicky said...

That's the way to train 'em, Jana! A mother after my own heart!! Woot Woot!!

The crazy Shaw Family said...

the mantra in our house is "Suck it up!" unless there are copious amounts of blood, I don't even bat an eyelash!I have a real problem with "helicopter parenting".
You so rock!

Christy said...

I can see my little Kellan doing the same thing! Aren't little boys amazing creatures?!

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

I like "Butts Up." Sounds like an NC17-Rated version of dodge ball.

HW said...

It just gets better. My teenage son and his friends go town to our ping pong table, strip off their shirts and take turns "serving" the ping pong balls at each other, leaving welts all over their upper bodies.

Then they come upstairs and let airborn tablets dissolve in their mouths without water - occasionally taking a sip of soda to make it fizz more.

Yep. Definitely the gifted and talented group hanging out here.

LeMira said...

Butts Up was a classic in my elementary school days. Of course, you HAD to be in the 5th or 6th grade to even be allowed into the game. I'm still shocked that I knew exactly what game you were describing from the beginning!

The Bus Driver said...

hahahaha LOVE intentional pain.

MamaOtwins+1 said...

Life is all about how you look at it!

Heidi said...

I would definitely be one of those moms that you'd consider "one of your own"!! Thank you for not being such a freak-out kinda mom!!

Madeline said...

We played butts up all the time, except we didn't expose ourselves. Ever. No one even talked about doing it.
My kids have to wear helmets in gym class when they play "pillow polo". It's pure lunacy. We're raising a generation of little pussies

Malea said...

"a few minutes later"...totally!!!!

Kyle and Alli said...

Classic and funny as always. Reading these posts makes me giggle and take a breath of much needed fresh air! :)

Thanks again for making our days bright by hooking us up with Stylish Baby Gear. You rock.

Alli and Baby Grant

Cookie said...

A commenter on my blog suggested I read yours and I'm glad she did. I loved this post, and can easily see my boys involved in the same things when they get older. Boys are something else.

Gabrielle Mappone said...

Your posts bring such humor to my otherwise stressful day! THANK YOU!!!

Lisa and company said...

hilarious!!!! Whenever my son comes home from band practice and tells me he wants to quit because he sucks I tell him to quit sucking.
Gotta love being a mom!

Too Many Hats said...

Never heard of either of those games, but it sounds like your family excels at them :)

M said...

This post is why I love your blog. Why can't I meet moms like you in a moms group?

Meeko Fabulous said...

Wow! When I was in elementary school this game was called 'Suicide'. LOL! I love you're cool demeanor with your kids. Not fawning all over them like the other moms. First aid kit? For a welt? What was she gonna do???

Colleen ~~ Hockey Mom said...

I'm guessing none of those parents will be lining up for ice hockey registration! LOL!

Nate and Stacia said...

LOL- I was just telling my husband about you the other day and how your sense of humor is rather like mine. I would have responded the exact same way-I love this post!