Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jesus and Nerf X-Series Hail Fire.

I taught a 2 1/2 year old how to shoot a toy gun.  What ya gonna to do 'bout it?
My children know there is no Easter Bunny.  I wondered, this year in particular, if I ruined a special childhood rite of passage by not convincing my children that a huge rabbit somehow busts into our house in the middle of the night to hide plastic eggs everywhere.  Or, is it supposed to be a magic bunny that can just, “Pop,” appear in each house to tramp through every room, touching our stuff, to hide those same plastic eggs that are in every store, and every aisle, for every child to see?  

Children’s TV channels have commercials for Easter Baskets that can be ordered, fully stocked, “Easy Easter for parents.”  If my twins ever did believe in an Easter Bunny, wouldn’t the commercial world have shattered their ideas by the time they were able to think and reason for themselves? Scientists say that that happens when they are only two years old.[1] 

Our Eggs.  Just kidding.
And Easter?  How should we celebrate it as a family?  My first instinct is that I want to go to church, because I believe full-heartily in the religious aspect of the holiday, and I understand Jesus’ resurrection into Heaven is why we “celebrate” the holiday at all.  My children know that too.  We have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve, because it’s his birthday, of course.  We are Catholic, for the most part.  It’s part of our family history and who we are.  It is part of my childhood.  It’s Nanny Stell and Grampy Jim.  It’s Grampy John and Nanny Tops.  It’s our Irish heritage.  It’s our family heritage.  It was taught to me as a set of values of goodness and kindness and charity and love above all else.  And, although I don’t agree with several things the Church endorses (or doesn't endorse),  I still feel Catholic.  I still feel it in my heart.  I believe the important stuff. 

This Easter, we didn’t go to church.  We hosted the whole shazam at our house, and we didn’t go to church.  I spent the day before, and Easter morning cooking like a crazy woman.  Teresa helped me exponentially in my planning.  She reined back my party planning, which I often take over the top.  Teresa and I balance each other very well.  She is very rational and sensible.  I am not sensible, most of the time.  I cook too much food; we ended up with a 27 gallon bin full of plastic eggs to hide.  When I said she reined me in, I mean she tried.  A valiant effort.

"I a animal!"
A week ago, Teresa and I went to Target to get Easter supplies.  As we walked around the store, sensible Teresa said, “Let’s get some Nerf guns and let the kids have fun running around shooting darts at each other.” 

We all know that the idea of kids playing with toy guns has become so taboo, it's shameful to even walk down the Nerf aisle, but secretly I have never wanted to worry about it.  Michael has been making guns out of blocks and sticks, before we thought he even knew what a gun was.  When I was a kid, my brother John and I played “war,” and GI Joe.  And all the kids in our neighborhood had water guns, and Nerf guns, and that was okay.  None of us are violent, nutsos, now.  And it’s a different generation anyway -- this violent video game generation that has been in the news for shooting sprees.  Yet, no matter how we grew up, we as parents today have been conditioned to be ultra-PC.  I have been terrified to buy a toy gun, knowing the world might be wagging a huge finger at me. 

But Teresa and I bought those suckers;  a cheaper version of Nerf (which Sam chided me for later), and an huge extra pack of darts, (which came in handy, I must say) and said, “Yeah, the kids will love it.”  Teresa and I felt great.  We knew it was gosh darn okay, that our kids would have FUN.  And that playing and having fun is what kids are supposed to do. 

Running!  Reloading!
So on that Holy day, (when I do believe believers should think about Jesus, his sacrifice for our sins, and we should celebrate his resurrection and the beginning of our own redemption), we did not go to church and instead we had an epic Nerf dart gun battle in our large, hilly yard.  It was beautiful outside. My bare knees were red from crawling on the ground with Michael who was yelling, "Take cover! Take cover!” AND “Retrieve the ammo!" at the same time.  I followed all his orders.  The darts were strewn about all over the yard, of course, and in the process of collecting darts Sam made sure to shoot me in the ass as many times as possible. That’s what I get for wearing a dress on Easter. 

After an hour of running, crawling, and rolling around in our yard, shooting each other with cheap Nerf knock-offs that required several steps before we could even fire a dart, we (okay, just the grown ups) were exhausted. My lungs burned from running up that hill and laughing at the same time.   I can’t remember the last time I laughed because I was happy, not just because something was funny.  And our children were beaming with joy that we had played with them, and let them use toy guns; the same plastic pistols that had been not allowed in our house before Teresa’s and my rebellion revelation.  
Stella "Oakley."
And on March 31st, I did think a lot about Jesus, and Catholicism, and parenthood.  And I remembered how my mother had instilled in me the spirit of the Church, and the values of our family, and I knew that on Easter this year we  felt love and jubilation.  And our children, the twins and little James, (who cried out, “Ready, set!  I a Animal!” --misheard when the older children screaming out, "I need more ammo!"-- every time he fired his fake-Nerf gun), were surrounded by family:  Their entire family.  And we were all together.  And we had fun. 

[1] Walton, Marsha. "Kids start remembering by second year, study finds."  CNN.com Science & Space. Web. 30 October 2002.