Paintball 2016

Well… today was one of those days when I felt like the Army.

I accomplished more before breakfast than the civilian world was going to accomplish all day long.  Of course, I didn’t get around to actually eating my breakfast until 9:30 this morning, but STILL.  We have clean towels.  We have clean jeans.  We have clean socks.  We have floors that are relatively clean again, after Thing 2 has traipsed in and out of the house, bringing in freshly-picked lilacs from the neighbors’ bush, which he quickly disassembled.

Ain’t no mess like a bouquet of lilacs, that has been meticulously taken apart and spread like a grain offering onto the coffee table by a four-year-old.  I just hope that the aroma was as pleasing to the Lord as it was to us.  At least the mess smelled fantastic.

Plus?  Well, I put dinner in the crockpot this morning, which always makes me feel like Betty “Wonder Woman” Crocker.  I don’t know what it is about the crockpot, but your entire day can be a total bust, as far as productivity goes, and yet… when the menfolk are hungry, long about 6 PM, after they’ve been working like Egyptian, brick-making slaves in Biblical times, you can take the glass lid off that crockpot and immediately lay a feast before them.  The beauty is that it’s real food, too, and not a box of Lucky Charms that you’ve laid out, right beside the jug of milk.

Anyway.

Last night, our church put on a paintball war for all the kids, who are ten and older, and their parents.  I think it goes without saying that the boy was ALL OVER THAT, because crawling through the brush and the stickers and the thorns and the weeds and the ticks and the snakes and the spiderwebs, just to shoot someone with a bright orange paintball, is a boy’s love language.  I daresay that our big boy could (Gasp!) skip a meal, if it meant that he could shoot paintball guns a little longer.  And the dads?  Well.  They’re just taller boys with grayer beards and mortgages; shooting their own children with paintball guns is something they take very seriously.

The downside of this is that the church rules were very firm:  AGES TEN AND OLDER.  Apparently… INSURANCE, SAFETY, COMMON SENSE, LET’S-NOT-GET-SUED, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  Try explaining all of those enormous words to a four-year-old, who is hanging out with a pack of high school freshman, as they suit up in protective eye wear and load guns with tiny orange balls.  It did not go over well.  Thing 2 kept shouting out, “But I’m ten!  I’m really ten now!”  Except… Hubs and I have the birth certificate which states that he’s still just four.

Also?  I’m not sure whether the rules were established to keep preschoolers from getting hurt, or whether they were set up to keep folks from getting shot at by Thing 2, who takes war as seriously as Rambo does.

I snapped my camera like a boss last night and took approximately three-point-four million photographs.  After our beloved pediatrician saw the snapshot of Thing 2 balancing precariously upon a bar stool that was on top of a chair earlier this week, she let me know that I had a gift for war photography, so… yeah.  I took that gift of war photography straight into the battlefield last night.

Before the actual shooting got started, I attempted to get a snapshot of the boy and his good buddy, Eli, together, but THIS is what fifteen year old boys do whenever their mama comes around with the camera:

IMG_9282 IMG_9283If they don’t turn their backs on you… well… they deliberately and ON PURPOSE close their eyes.

May their birthdays and the gifts they receive go well for them AFTER THAT.

And y’all wonder why the boy hardly has any photos on the blog these days.  THIS, people!  THIS is why!  He avoids my camera like a contagious plague.

Our youth pastor explained all the rules to all the kids.  Eye gear…  All of the time.  One hit kills, even if it’s just a flesh wound to the arm, and you think you could still remain in combat after getting a tourniquet and a morphine injection from the medic.  If you got hit last night, you were out.  There would be no going across the river, pretending that you were in the deepest jungles of Vietnam, even though, YES!  SOME OF YOU COULD PROBABLY PULL THAT ACT OFF, EVEN THOUGH THE RIVER IS UP AND RUNNING FAST RIGHT NOW FROM SPRING RUNOFF.  Remember… this is CHURCH PAINTBALL; we’re not trying to film The Hurt Locker here.

The kids and dads all listened closely, because none of them wanted to be the one disqualified for Rule Infringement.

IMG_9306 IMG_9345 IMG_9347And then there was a little short guy, who was also diligently listening to the rules and taking note of boundaries, because he still believed that he was going to pull off the fib of being ten.

IMG_9348The equipment was passed out.

Kids suited up, in teams of six, and were given their areas to occupy.  The timer was set for ten-minute games… six-on-six.  At the end of ten minutes, whichever team had the most soldiers still engaging in active combat and the fewest sitting out in body bags, was declared the winner.

IMG_9353 IMG_9354 IMG_9313 IMG_9366 IMG_9378 IMG_9379Dads suited up, too, as they did a lot of smack-talking about WINNING THIS ENTIRE WAR!

There isn’t anything more competitive than a dad going up against his teenage kid in paintball.

(Unless it’s Thing 2, going up against ANYONE in paintball.)

IMG_9355 IMG_9359

IMG_9380Some teenage girls didn’t get the message that these were SPRING-LOADED paintball guns, and NOT NOT NOT the CO2 guns.  This would be a RATHER GENTLE kind of Baptist war.  Some girls came dressed to survive taking a direct hit at two paces from a CO2-powered assault rifle.

In war, nothing can be left to chance.

IMG_9356And then… well… everyone dispersed into the brush, because COVER!  COVER!  USE THE GROUND COVER!!  The choppers can’t see you from the air that way!

IMG_9402 IMG_9521 IMG_9381 IMG_9384 IMG_9390 IMG_9396 IMG_9397 IMG_9403 IMG_9405 IMG_9395 IMG_9510 IMG_9511 IMG_9517 IMG_9518 IMG_9519

IMG_9311  IMG_9322 IMG_9324IMG_9367 IMG_9453 IMG_9603

IMG_9326 IMG_9343 These snapshots make it look like I was there, in the thick of all the battles.

This is NOT the case.

I, too, misunderstood that these were spring-loaded, GENTLE guns, and not the high-powered, assault monsters the boy and his friends usually play with.  Although Hubs was completely on board with getting into the action, even under the fire of something similar to a large-caliber rifle that can bring down 22,000-pound dragons from the sky, I was not.

It was the GIRL in me.

I have SEEN the bruises that the boy comes home with after paintball fights with his friends.  No, thank you.  I’ll sit on the sidelines.  Besides, taking a spiderweb to the hair in the middle of a thorny bush is not my idea of a good time.  It doesn’t involve air conditioning or good hygiene.

The honest answer is that I sat up on the top of the bank and used a telephoto lens.  I’m happy to report that I never ended up with ANY orange paint splattered all over me.

When kids weren’t in battle… when it wasn’t their team’s turn to fight someone else… there were grilled hot dogs to eat and marshmallows to cook and S’mores to make and pick-up soccer games to get into and Frisbee matches going on.

Thing 2 looked exactly like THIS all night long:

IMG_9278I gave up even trying to count how many marshmallows he’d eaten, after his fifteenth one.

Don’t judge me.

I was the one taking his sugar-filled body home to bed.  My failure to keep him from eating three entire bags of huge marshmallows was all on my shoulders, and I was going to reap the bedtime issues involved there.

Also?  I’m fairly certain we have the only child, in the history of all the children, who HATES hot dogs.  It’s true.  Thing 2 hates hot dogs like they were an organic, foreign berry that would poison him.  He’ll just take an empty bun, some chips and a Styrofoam cup filled with bright-red food dye, please.

IMG_9337 IMG_9284 IMG_9300 IMG_9297 IMG_9291 IMG_9299 IMG_9293 IMG_9294 IMG_9303 IMG_9373 IMG_9375 IMG_9410 IMG_9411 IMG_9412 IMG_9416 IMG_9425 IMG_9431 IMG_9433 IMG_9436 IMG_9448 IMG_9457 IMG_9458 IMG_9459 IMG_9472 IMG_9482 IMG_9401IMG_9330 IMG_9350 IMG_9464

IMG_9594 IMG_9581The soccer games going on were fast-paced and lively.  Thing 2 immediately got himself involved there, because the soccer games had ZERO AGE RESTRICTIONS.  Plus?  Well,  Thing 2 considers himself to be something of a David Beckham or a Lionel Messi.  When he starts kicking a ball, he won’t quit until he’s managed to score fifty-seven goals all by himself.

IMG_9428 IMG_9423 soccer_collage_one IMG_9529 IMG_9537And then?

It was pretty much time to call it a night, because YOUTH BEDTIMES.  Parents were coming to collect their little soldiers, to take them home for showers with plenty of soap.  The fire was being put out, and the marshmallows (those six that Thing 2 didn’t get to) were being wrapped back up in plastic bags.  Folding chairs were being taken inside.  The last call for hot dogs went out.

IMG_9565IMG_9569And YES.

The paintball table was momentarily left unattended, so guess who — QUICK AS A FLASH!!! — suited up?

IMG_9508 IMG_9505

IMG_9597 IMG_9600 IMG_9601He sported his face shield and carried an empty paintball gun around for quite some time, and HE.  WAS.  CONTENT.

As far as Thing 2 was concerned, he’d finally been to war, and he had as many war stories to tell as all the fifteen-year-olds in my Suburban on the way home had to share.

His entire WEEK was complete.

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