The Epic Battle

Well.

All good things must eventually come to an end (Unless people keep passing Starbucks gift cards your way, and then chai lattes could go on forever, but really?  Realistically that only happens in December, when all of the children in my PE classes hand me $5 cards for a teacher’s gift, because they’ve seen me holding a white cup with a mermaid on it EVERY! SINGLE! TIME! they come to class.), so Birthday Fest ’13 has wrapped itself up.

Or worn itself out.

Whatever the case may be.

I’m pretty certain that the boy will forever look upon his thirteenth birthday and remember it as a time of sweet perfection.

On Thursday, he woke up, grinning from ear to ear, because… well… HE WAS FINALLY A TEENAGER.  And being thirteen meant he was inching closer and closer to the much-coveted driver’s license.

And then this happened:

IMG_7401That would be a T-shirt from Keith and Carrie.  I believe Carrie’s exact words last week were, “We are sending the boy a gift.  You’ll hate it, but we really want to be his very favorite people, and THIS PRESENT is going to rocket us to the top!”

Yes.  Yes, it did.  Now he has a costume to wear when he stays up way too late, talking about the greatest mysteries of the world (Big Foot, the giant squid, the megladon shark, aliens with glowing eyes…) late into the night with Keith and Hubs, while his mama and Carrie talk about IMPORTANT topics (color choices for pedicures, new lighting fixtures for dining rooms, sales at Gymboree and Ralph Lauren).

There were other presents to be opened, too.  Mam and Pa bought the boy new golf shoes, which complemented the new club that Hubs and I gave him.

(Speaking of clubs?  Folks always say HOCKEY IS SO EXPENSIVE!  MY KIDS ARE FINANCIALLY CRIPPLING ME WITH HOCKEY!, but listen.  Golf clubs must be filled with the glitter off of a unicorn’s horn and polished with fairy tears.  I can’t figure out any other reason for the cost of them.)

IMG_7408 IMG_7419 IMG_7424IMG_7425 IMG_7427 IMG_7435 IMG_7439Thing 2 had a gift for his Bubbie, as well.  It was a Special Birthday Hug.

IMG_7413And then the boy took off for the golf course with Enzo, because NEW CLUB!  NEW CLUB!  I’M GOING TO SMACK A BALL SEVEN HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN YARDS WITH THIS THING!

IMG_7441 IMG_7443 IMG_7446And then… for the first time of ever, we didn’t plan a big birthday party for the boy.

Or did we?

*insert mischievous grin right here*

If there’s one thing the boy loves as much as golfing, it’s shooting his buddies with his air soft guns.  And?  Did you hear?  Well, he got brand new guns for his birthday gift, and Hubs and I knew these were coming.

So… I made a secret phone call to the boy’s friend, Patrick.  Patrick lives out of town, on a chunk of property that is covered in trees and brush and bushes and boulders and ponds and tall weeds, and LOOK!  It’s a boy’s Promised Land!  Patrick offered to host a little surprise party for the boy, which would involve a batch of the boy’s closest buddies hopping up and down (in a manly fashion, of course) to yell out, “Surprise!”  And then they’d immediately break into teams and shoot the ever-lovin’ snot out of each other.

Since I’m not well-schooled in the area of air soft wars (But ask me about back-to-school sales at Ralph Lauren!  Ask me about chevron-striped rugs for your living room!), I pretty much said, “Um, Patrick?  How about I handle the food and the invitations, and YOU take care of the war.”

Patrick acted as though I’d handed him a seventeen-pound golden nugget.  He became the party planner of the century, y’all, and I couldn’t have pulled the event off without him taking charge.  He mapped out a game plan.  He recruited Enzo’s help and they made flags for teams.  He secured worn-out tires to use as bunkers.  He told his dad that he couldn’t possibly stack the giant spread of chopped wood BEFORE THE PARTY, because they needed it FOR THE PARTY.

All I had to do was buy some hot dogs and some chips and yell out, “Hey, boys!  Who wants to join a secret air soft war?”

And then Hubs and I took the boy to Patrick’s house on Thursday night, because… well… Patrick had “a little something” for the boy on the back patio.  The boy thought we were going out to dinner.  We were.  I asked him what he wanted for dinner.  He wanted a fifteen-ounce grilled steak and spicy gumbo.  I asked him how he felt about hot dogs.  He said he liked hot dogs, but he didn’t think they were the best choice for a birthday dinner.  I told him, “Just walk behind Patrick’s house there, before we go eat dinner.  He has something for you on the patio.”

Boys do not give any thought to HIS MAMA MIGHT WANT TO TAKE PHOTOS OF THIS, because… well… TESTOSTERONE.  It just doesn’t think the way estrogen does.  I was hot on the heels of the boy, with my camera at the ready, but I missed a shot of the boys jumping out and surprising my son.

And just point-four seconds after the big party reveal, everyone yelled, “Grab a gun!!!”

IMG_7447 IMG_7449 IMG_7450The boy was stunned.  He was surprised.  He hadn’t seen this coming.  And he was bummed, because, “MOM!! I DON’T HAVE MY GUNS WITH ME!!”

Oh, yes he did.  Hubs had secretly stashed them in our Suburban.

GAME ON!

We had nine warriors on Thursday night.

There was the boy…

IMG_7626… and Patrick…

IMG_7648… and Enzo.

IMG_7640Kellen was there…

IMG_7644… and so was Andrew…

IMG_7643… and our cute neighbor boy…

IMG_7642… and Collin, too.

IMG_7645Of course Ben showed up, because he wouldn’t have missed crawling through the woods on his belly with a gun for ANYTHING…

IMG_7639.. and neither would Eli.  He was definitely in for a war!

IMG_7641Patrick gave the group of boys a run-down on rules and regulations.  There were flags to be captured, and arrests to be made for head shots.  And DOES EVERYONE HAVE EYE PROTECTION?  Because HELLO, EYEBALLS THAT YOUR OWN MOTHER WOULD LIKE YOU TO KEEP!  Slips of paper were drawn to put boys on random teams, and then we cut the troop loose.

IMG_7452 IMG_7456 IMG_7457 IMG_7462 IMG_7465 IMG_7466 IMG_7471 IMG_7484 IMG_7473 IMG_7474But OF COURSE I made everyone pose for a group snapshot.

It’s what I do.

This batch of boys has come to expect it.  Enzo even looked at me, pointed and said, “And three, two, one… cue the request for us to ‘gather together and smile.'”

(I still love Enzo.)

IMG_7480Patrick’s sister, Maggie, was assigned the job of referee.  She was to make sure rules were followed, and she was to help refill bowls of air soft pellets.

IMG_7488 IMG_7594Patrick’s sister Katie was there, too.  She was hired as the Party Chef, so she grilled the hot dogs.

IMG_7489 IMG_7539 IMG_7624Sister came out with her kiddos, too.

Cousin L was there, and she admitted to me, “Auntie, I don’t understand why shooting each other with these guns is so much fun.  It really looks kind of dirty and boring.”

Dirty and boring.  That about sums it up, Girlfriend!

IMG_7491 IMG_7622Cousin K was there, too.  He didn’t think the war looked dirty and boring at all.  In fact, had the participants been… you know… SECOND GRADERS and not seventh graders, he would have joined in with a heart filled with happiness.  K wasn’t so sure he wanted to be pitted against the big boys when they were armed and dangerous, so he made himself at home on the rope swing and in Patrick’s amazing tree fort.

IMG_7623 IMG_7490Cousin H was there, too.  She came for the Cheetos.

IMG_7494 IMG_7551IMG_7497 IMG_7500 IMG_7502 IMG_7503 IMG_7508 IMG_7511 IMG_7516 IMG_7517 IMG_7521 IMG_7523 IMG_7529 IMG_7530 IMG_7541 IMG_7546Sometimes grown men can’t stand to see the younger boys have all the fun, so they CONCEAL A WEAPON.

Without a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

IMG_7553And then Patrick’s dad ambushed him.

IMG_7574The rule was that once you had been hit five times, you were out of the game.

Five air soft pellets will send you to the patio for the paramedics and a possible Purple Heart.

After the shock of being shot BY HIS DAD, Patrick fired off a round.

BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!  BANG!

IMG_7555 IMG_7556 IMG_7557 IMG_7560 IMG_7568Patrick put his dad out of the game in a big hurry, so Brian turned his attention to telling other teams how they could capture Patrick’s flag.

IMG_7590“You’re gonna want to roll up the dirt road in an armored tank, Boy.  Do you have any hand grenades?  Dynamite?  A rocket launcher, maybe?”

Hubs wanted to play, too, but he said, “I hate to jump into this and annihilate all the boys in seconds, like I’m capable of doing single handedly.  Jason Bourne probably shouldn’t play against the kids.”

IMG_7591IMG_7573 IMG_7575 IMG_7579 IMG_7592 IMG_7598Enzo was signalling from the field.

“I have two captives!”

“I need two agents!”

“I took out two enemies with one shot!”

“I could really go for two cupcakes about now!”

“Two fingers means STEAL HOME PLATE!”

We’re not really sure WHAT Enzo was signalling, because I’m not well-versed in the sign language of war.

IMG_7600Flags were captured.  Teams won.  Teams lost.  Games restarted.  It was a never-ending battle of constant motion, sweat and victory shouts.

IMG_7595 IMG_7604 IMG_7606 IMG_7607I can’t believe I’m about to say this, because… well… BOYS!  And it wasn’t typical behavior for boys, but… NO ONE WANTED TO STOP FOR HOT DOGS!  Dinner was the furthest thing down on the boys’ list Thursday night, but they weren’t going to leave us with seventy-seven cooked hot dogs and all those unused buns.

IMG_7611 IMG_7620It took them all exactly three entire minutes to eat their dinners, guzzle their Gatorade, and return to the battlefield.

IMG_7628 IMG_7630 IMG_7631 IMG_7637 IMG_7638After Round Forty-Seven of shooting one another, I did manage to talk them into stopping long enough to make S’mores.  Patrick’s dad built a bonfire big enough to roast a brontosaurus over.

IMG_7653 IMG_7657 IMG_7658 IMG_7650 IMG_7651 IMG_7665 IMG_7667 IMG_7675 IMG_7677 IMG_7679 IMG_7680 IMG_7682 IMG_7695 IMG_7704Enzo’s little brother, Jonah, showed up for S’mores.  Chocolate and roasted marshmallows are a boy’s love language.

IMG_7699IMG_7709And then it was time for the debut of the cannon.  Patrick had engineered a piece of PVC pipe and an air compressor, and he could launch things long distances.

It was also discovered if you loaded shrapnel into the cannon, along with BAKING FLOUR, it was even MORE FUN.

IMG_7710 IMG_7711 IMG_7713 IMG_7715 IMG_7717 IMG_7724 IMG_7728 IMG_7731 IMG_7732 IMG_7743 IMG_7751 IMG_7752 IMG_7753 IMG_7754 IMG_7755 IMG_7761

I wish that I could put into words how badly these boys smelled on Thursday evening.  Take the carcass of a dead squid and put it into a garbage bag with rotten eggs, the sweat of forty-seven camels, and the entrails of a deer during hunting season.  Tie the bag up and let it sit in the hot sun.  Let it sit for seven days.  Pick Phoenix, Arizona during August for this experiment.  After a week, open that Hefty bag up.

Yep.  That was the smell that came off of these boys after two and a half hours of crawling through the brush and the bushes… after climbing trees and jumping from trees and hurdling fences at a dead run… after wading on the sides of the pond and dripping sweat everywhere.

All nine of those boys were in POWERFULLY DESPERATE NEED of a shower.  With soap.  And a rinse and repeat.

We wrapped the party up at 8:00.  The boys were not happy about this, because they still had ammunition left!  There was still half a bag of flour left!  It’s still light outside!  Why do we have to quit now?  WHOSE POOR IDEA WAS IT TO END THE PARTY AT 8:00???!!!

But we had parents arriving to pick boys up, so we called it a night, regardless of the strong protests.

The boys are already mapping out plans for their next air soft war.

And I think the boy was DADGUM STINKING HAPPY with his surprise birthday party.  He even said, “This was the best party I have ever been to!  I can’t believe it was MINE!”  Yes, it was a terrific party.

Even if he had to eat hot dogs for dinner, which isn’t the best choice for birthday food.

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