It was test day for our family last Saturday. While your mother was taking part I of her licensing exam, you and I had our own little tests on the playground at the mall.
There are two playgrounds at our mall. The first is what I call the varsity playground. It’s outside next to the turtle pond. It has a padded snake slithering in between igloos and a climbing net. It’s where the big kids go to play, and coincidentally, it’s also where you fell into a bed of flowers and scratched your knee.
So I failed that test, and on Saturday, I decided that we were going inside to the JV playground. The inside playground is more our speed. Nothing is higher than three feet and there are no rose bushes in sight.
It has walls on all sides, about the same height as the sides of a hockey rink. Parents line along the edges, their elbows propped up on the rails. They are there to watch and make sure no one escapes, because inside those walls, the playground is more than just a playground.
It’s Fight Club, and the first rule of Fight Club is that parents don’t interfere with what goes in Fight Club.
This is a phenomena I completely do not understand, Blue. I get that parents feel comfortable knowing their kids aren’t going anywhere once they’re inside the walls, but there are other kids in there, and they need parents to monitor what’s going on. Otherwise, it becomes Thunderdome.
Which is what happened on Saturday. I completely ignore standard parent procedure and follow you into the mayhem. There are kids everywhere. They’re four deep on every climbing apparatus in there, burrowed like barnacles underneath in the tunnels.
We take off your shoes, and as soon as I put your feet on the ground, you’re off. Like a rocket. A tiny, slightly drunk rocket.
You’re big for your age, Blue. And your motor skills are exceptional as well. Unfortunately, though, your ability to accurately estimate your abilities is not up to par, and so you often run into situations where you try to do what the older kids do, and you can’t.
In this particular instance, you wanted to play with a series of spinning bats on the wall. An older kid was playing on one of them. Even though he was slightly smaller than you, I could tell he was older because of the way he moved. It was crisper, more assured, and this assumption was confirmed when he abruptly turned to face you, grabbed the bat you were trying to spin, and stopped it from spinning. He frowned at you and kept his hand on the bat. The message was clear.
It was, Hello baby. I am a giant douchebag in training. Please do not use something I might use in the future, because it is mine even though we are in a public playground. I will live a miserable, lonely life, but this bat is mine. Go away.
To which I reply, “It’s okay, dude. You can spin the bat. We’ll wait until he’s ready to share.”
To which you reply, “Dadadada,” and then you drunk rocket run over to the nearby ladybug etching on the other side of the wall.
To which douchebag in training replies by running over to you and shoving you to the ground.
Thus began our tests.
For me, it was simple. In the briefest of brief nanoseconds after he shoved you, the words MURDER HIM blared in my mind. Bound by the constraints of society and parental duty, I decided to not follow through with my base instincts.
I knelt down to pick you up off the ground, and said, as calmly as possible, “That’s not very nice.”
I passed my test. No kids were murdered and I did not end up in jail.
Now it was time for your test. I kept talking to you as the mom of the d.i.t. chided him for assaulting a toddler for having the audacity to play with a ladybug. You stood there calmly as I told you, “Do you want to play with the bat? You can go play with the bat.”
I wasn’t about to just walk away. You had every right to be there and spin that bat. I watched proudly as you stood up, unfazed by the d.i.t.’s attempts to intimidate you away. You walked right over to that bat, and you spun to your heart’s content. Test passed.
Meanwhile, Cobra Kai decided that he still did not want you to be spinning that bat, so he came over AGAIN to let you know you were not welcome to be there.
To which I replied with subtle but firm hip check into the wall.
Not this time, dude. Blue’s gonna spin.
P.S. Your mom passed her test, too.