Ahhh, the Thanksgiving season has returned again. The leaves that are green turn to brown, the air turns cold and invigorating, we develop an inexplicable craving for pumpkin pie and apple cider . . . and the relatives come cruising in to clean out our refrigerators and clog up our plumbing. The cats had the right idea--one plays dead on the couch; the other disappears entirely. Clever little rascals, they are!
Don't get me wrong, I love the concept of family, but in reality it can be perilous indeed. Case in point, even though I'm the only person in the family who has even a remote interest in professional wrestling, it is my "innocent" nieces and nephews who see fit to run amok and bounce off the furniture, delivering bone-rattling frog splashes and tendon-tearing armbars to my weary, out-of-shape body. Sure, I have the advantage in terms of sheer power and technique, but no man can stand alone against the furious onslaught of THREE hopped-up children with a taste for human blood. Then there is the issue of trying to play a quiet board game. I assure you, friends and readers all, that there is no such thing as a "quiet" game with these kids, ESPECIALLY when the wee one decides it would be far more fun to snatch the game pieces and cards and play "Keep Away." What the children want, you see, is to play Wii Sports, even though their attention spans are insufficient even to smack the bejabbers out of a golf ball for more than 5 minutes at a time. Their mother does not like video games (she is appalled at how their dear uncle turned out, and as such wants to make sure her children do not suffer a similar fate), and suggests we find an alternative source of fun. The kids also have a certain affinity for action figures, and they are weary of playing with the sturdy old X-Men and Silver Surfer they played with on previous visits; they are far more intrigued by the X-Men's Blackbird jet on display on my bookshelf, or the flimsy little Hobbits and Elfkind that remain locked in mortal combat on the surrounding shelf space. They do not understand the concept of "fragile collectibles"; neither does their mother, who sees me as stingy and curmudgeonly. Indeed, they would also like very much to read my comic book collection, and there is nothing I would like more than to help encourage an interest in comics. Unfortunately, again, I do not think it would be prudent to let them thumb through my vintage collection of Frank Miller "Daredevil" comics . . . call me a self-centered nerd, but this stuff may put me through college when my financial aid runs out.
Frustrated with her children's incessant demands for entertainment, Mother Dear suggests (ever so subtly) that instead of playing Wii Sports, they should instead go outside with me (re: I should take them outside, and out of earshot). Fair enough, it is a bit warm inside, and I could stand to walk off the fine chili lunch I had eaten earlier (it's not Thanksgiving yet, kids; it's only Monday). So we go outside. The kids, unable to locate Mom's cat, are feeling frustrated (and a little bit violent, as their terrifying need to pester something living has been thwarted by the cat's cunning skill at hiding), but the cool air is helping to temper their base instincts. They are getting pretty hyper, these three children ages 10, 7, and . . . ummm . . . I dunno, 2? 3? Anyway, the wee one starts climbing on hay bales, and is pretty proud of herself, short little legs notwithstanding. She has no fear of jumping off said hay bales, either, and does so with a dismount worthy of a medal, even if only a chocolate one wrapped in gold foil. The others are more interested in forming a pile of leaves to jump in, and as such, they lead me on in search of rakes. We find two rakes and a broken garden hoe (which Wee One wields with all the solemn duty of an Arlington gravedigger) and subsequently set to work on the epic leaf pile. I, personally, am full of chili and care not for leaf piles, so I choose to "supervise," enjoying my lollipop and breathing in the lovely fall air. The kids, however, are indignant at my apathy toward their leaf-gathering ventures, and implore me to scoop up leaves and add to the pile; I decline. Wee One even goes so far as to call me "Lazy Uncle!!" (she has always been perceptive beyond her years, mocking everything from my freckles to my double-chin. It would be hurtful were she not so bloody cute).
Soooo, after a while they get a nice pile of leaves, and subsequently leap into it. They then continue puttering around with their respective garden implements. I, feeling guilty for being a "lazy uncle," decide to be a goober and make them laugh. I turn around and pull my Mizzou hoodie up over my head. I then face them and start acting like a zombie--"GRRRRRRRRR!!"
Naturally, the kids think this is hilarious, and immediately turn it into a game of "Blind Man's Bluff"--only with weapons. I run around "aimlessly" (though unbeknownst to them, I can see a little bit through the material of my hoodie), trying to grab at them, and they sneak around and jab, swat, and/or prod me with their rakes and whatnot. It's all good fun, and they're shocked when I actually grab one of them and pull an epic German suplex to the unforgiving grass below! It's awesome, and I roar my defiance to the cloudy November sky. The other kids look on, awestruck at my awesomeness, and I know I have earned their undying respect. Feels good. Then the kid I suplexed shoves leaves down my hood--yuck.
We goof around for a bit longer outside, playing around in the leaves and having a general good time, until my nephew suggests I "be the blind man again." I am all for that, because I am eager to prove my awesome might to them again. I pull up my hoodie, start making guttural zombie sounds, and start running around, arms flailing. I can see my nephew, and since it was he who essentially demanded more punishment, I feel it necessary to tackle the heck out of him, Bill Goldberg style. But when I plant my feet and start to build up a head of steam, I'm suddenly stopped by something totally unexpected--THE LITTLE $#!+#&@? STABBED ME IN THE GROIN WITH THE RAKE HANDLE!!!!
Okay, kids, don't worry--it wasn't quite as bad as I made it sound, but it hurt like heck. He didn't break the skin--barely even scuffed my jeans--but the *ahem* skin of my inner thigh was roughed up pretty badly. OWCH!! It could have been a lot worse, because Wee One's hoe handle was all snapped and splintery--it's good that I attacked the nephew instead. Still, I collapsed to the ground in pain, tenderly massaging my battle-ravaged thigh muscle. The kids just laughed their butts off, but after a while they realized I was legitimately hurting. They still thought it was funny, but they had the decency to ask if I was okay. I winced, pulled myself to my feet, and put on a chillaxed face, trying to hide my pain. Then, mercifully, the storm clouds began to swirl and the winds began to blow fierce, so I suggested they put away their weap--er, garden implements--and go inside, where I promptly fell into a comfy chair and breathed a sigh of relief.
The moral of this story is this: if you're going to roughhouse with small children, particularly psychotic little demon children who are related to you, make sure of two things: first and foremost, make sure you are able to maintain visual contact at all times. Do NOT take your eyes off them for an instant, nor should you under ANY circumstances allow yourself to be blindfolded--recipe for disaster, kiddies. Also, make sure they're not packing anything that could be used as a weapon, particularly of the sharp and/or pointy variety--unless, of course, you're not interested in having kids one day yourself. :P
Oh, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL!!!! :)