Special Forces*

One of the hardest things about being a mother is helping my kids find their passions, then keeping them from drowning in them.

Left unchecked, my daughter would spend her days monogramming everything in the house, then decorating and redecorating her room with layers of color using tricks she studies on Pinterest.

Left on his own, my son would disappear into Call of Duty.

Maybe he has. His summer so far has been day after day of rallying a group to go on missions. When I told him that people actually get paid to go to war the boy almost lost himself with joy and fell deeper into the game.

 I know, I know, I should force him outside, force him to chase a frisbee or at least play with his neglected hamster.

But I haven't.

 I've enjoyed watching him play, learn, study tactics and explain weapons to me. I've also enjoyed not hearing "I'm bored" a single time. Instead, he wakes up everyday knowing exactly what he wants to do,  hyperfocused on playing to win.

This morning for a moment I thought maybe he went too far, I thought he was accumulating nukes when he showed me something flashing on his screen.

I wanted to ask him straight out, You have nukes? Are you working with Iran? North Korea? Do I call the UN? but I decided that was too direct of a tactic. Of course if he had nukes and was working with the Axis of Evil he wouldn't tell me.

I was left to my own resources, to Special Forces.

Just an hour a ago, maybe less, he started complaining his Wii U pad was running out of energy and commanded his unit "protect him" while he plugged it into his charger.

Uh-oh. He wiggles the charger, wiggles it again.

The charger wasn't working.

 He tried it in this outlet, in the other, then said it was broken, broken forever.

The boy who talks smack about everyone's Mom during the game was suddenly 9, suddenly scared and angry.

Stay calm, I told him and examined the part of the gray charger cord which was knotted up angrily. I took my time and pulled it apart, unlacing it from itself.

There, try again.

He tried.


I handed him my iPhone and told him to google "WiiU pad replacement charger"  -- that kept him calm. They have them at Target, at Amazon, at Gamestop. Places my son can't go without me. He needs me again, and now that he's cut off from his other passion maybe we will even go to lunch and stroll around the bookstore I think wishfully, but dare not say out loud.

Within minutes he is more than calm, and off studying YouTube videos on Call of Duty like Quarterbacks study gamefilms.  

I'm still sitting on the floor holding the broken charger when I see the little marks there, there, there and there all next to each other, exposing copper wire.

I look over and realize where the charger had been, right there, next to the square of plastic and metal.

And from between the tiny metal bars I swear the sneaky jealous hamster winked at me and smiled.

Kiss in the Dark (Sniper Story)

I tuck him while doing a mental celebratory dance.

All of June my kids stay up later and later and sleep later and later while I keep my normal schedule. This is kinda nice because the mornings (and by "morning" I mean everything before sunset) are so peaceful while the kids sleep and I get work done.

This particular night is different because I fell asleep at my normal time then woke up with a headache. The only tylenol in the house had caffeine added to it, and I took it at midnight and it hit me like a gallon of Cafe Cubano. So I hung out with my kids watching TV and laughing and talking.

Zack is hungry and asks for bacon, fully expecting me to balk. Whatever, I say, and go about frying it up. When I hand it to him I warn him to NOT tell other kids his mom made him bacon in the middle of the night, and he nods with seriousness before going back to his game, the game that his taught him what C4 is, what a Bouncing Betty is, and how to gather a group and go fight a mission.

Finally Zack finally begged to go to bed.

It isn't dawn yet, I told him, tossing down the gauntlet.

It doesn't matter, he tells me. His eyes hurt, he's tired. He's going to bed.

So I follow him into his room and leave the light off. I fluff his pillows and pull down the comforter and tuck him all in then try to kiss him. But it's dark in his room and I miss.

Stay still he tells me, then leans up and kisses me right on the lips.

How did you DO that I ask, laughing.

I'm a sniper, he replies, then turns over and goes off to sleep.

Accidental Americans