Calvin decided last year that his Birthday this year would involve laser tag. Well, given my peacebuilding profession and general discomfort with violence, actual or play, I was less than thrilled by the thought of a gaggle of kids running around our park taking aim and shooting at each other. But I kept my feelings to myself as I knew that kids and toy weapons are a normal part of childhood and growing up. So this past Saturday was the big squirmish.
It also coincided with a major heat wave, record temperatures and warnings of unhealthy air quality. So in addition to my general discomfort with the birthday-battle theme, I pictured eight year olds dropping like flies due to the heat. So we loaded up on water for drinking and sponging the kids down.
Well, we got off to a rough start. You see, we forgot to inform the combatants that laser tag was a no contact sport. So the first round ended in a scrum, with kids piled on top of each other. We failed to inform the kids that the “tag” was figurative only. And that the “laser” was supposed to reach out and do all the touching—NOT the actual gun or a body part.
But after sorting out the dog-pile, things went fairly smoothly thereafter. There were of course a few tussles where allegations of cheating were tossed about (mainly from Dad directed to Birthday Boy son). But overall, the kids handled themselves brilliantly. After the heat of battle, and the heat of actual heat, the kids sat down for pizza and were all smiles.
Next up was a quick drenching on the slip-and-slide, followed by a rousing Happy Birthday chorus, cake and fond farewells to all. Then peace returned to our sleepy little neighborhood. At least for another year.