The kids have asked me, for the fifth time today, to play their ninja game. I have run out of excuses. The dishes are washed. The laundry is put away. I have finished reading the news articles I had queued up for today. Now I must choose my ninja persona. Will I fight with fire or ice or rain down lighting on my enemies.
I stare at my son’s beseeching eyes and my daughter’s eager face. They want me to play their game so much. They want me to get up, put on my costume, hold aloft my sword and fight. But me, I want to sit, read a good book, maybe listen to some music while I watch them run around. Also, I have no imagination for such games.
Finally, I agree. I tell them I will be fire. They smile and start spinning, screaming war cries into the air. These unintelligible fragments hit me from either side. I am lost already and, according to them, the game has not begun. They are adamant about this. I sigh inwardly. I ask again what it is I’m supposed to be doing. They both do the child equivalent of eye rolling and almost simultaneously say, “mom, fight the bad guys.”
To me the bad guys are outside our house, far away, hopefully. They look like ordinary people but they have evil minds and are capable of such destruction of the human heart that it makes me lose my breath. The bad guys don’t wear all black disguises and wield gold swords. They do have black souls and crave gold, however. My children don’t know anything about bad guys, yet here we are fighting them with taped together sticks and bright orange foam.
Eventually, both of them get tired of my failure and utter lack of skill in this game. They just start battling on their own, showing me their impressive arm chops and leg kicks. I smile at them and look a little beyond them to the bad guys, those imaginary villains that manifest only in a child’s mind. And then I hear my son say, “we won the battle.” I’m just glad they can be defeated so quickly and are nowhere near as beastly as the real thing.