2010-12-31 / Commentary

Forty– something

The Battle of a lifetime
By Mike Maddock

The closest my family has ever gotten to a white Christmas is when my eight–year–old son has spilled a bag of mini–marshmallows into his hot chocolate. So when the snow came this Christmas it was a very special time at my house.

It was a time that called for battle. My son and I teamed up to face my two daughters in a backyard brawl that would be as legendary as the snow itself.

Despite very little snow experience, my children each had their own very unique styles.

My 11–year–old daughter grabbed her snowball and proceeded to wind up like some major league pitcher. It was the kind of wind up that would allow someone as slow as me to steal second and third base. Needless, to say I pelted her three or four times before she got done with her leg kick. However, once she finally released her snowball, it was no looping curve ball. No, this thing looked like a Nolan Ryan fastball heading straight for my head. What she lacked in volume, she made up for in accuracy, speed, and deadliness.

My oldest daughter (the 13–year–old) had a bit of a different strategy. She was prepared to sacrifice her body for one enormous hit. While we were the little fighter planes darting around with tiny bullets, she was the Enola Gay lumbering at us with a nuclear bomb. She crossed the field of battle looking like one of the boulder–wielding giants

from The Lord of the Rings.

Of course, she was much cuter and wore a lot more pink, but the strategy was about the same. She absorbed multiple shots to the legs and belly, but eventually made her way to our fort and dropped her bombs on our heads.

My son put an enormous amount of energy into our fort. He shoveled furiously toting the wheelbarrow around to fill it with snow for our wall. He constructed our fort with all the intensity of a USGS engineer reconstructing the levies after Katrina, but to my surprise when the time came for battle he turned to me and said, “You stay here, Daddy…I’m going in.”

He fought through nuclear snow bombs and fastballs and threw himself into the fort my daughters had constructed with equal care. He transferred the same energy he had put into constructing our safe haven into destroying theirs. It was almost the stuff of legends until my oldest daughter dropped a rather large bomb on his head. After that, all I could see were a small pair of Asics dangling from the top of their wall.

I couldn’t just leave him there. What kind of soldier would I be? I grabbed a handful of snowballs, left the safety of our fort, and charged my daughters. My rescue mission was going splendidly. I pelted my youngest daughter into a full out retreat and pinned my oldest daughter against the wall of our house forcing her to leave my son. I dove into their fort and set my son free.

Victory was mine!

I was about to celebrate my triumph when a perfectly placed fastball exploded on the back of my head. The ice shrapnel trickled down my back causing me to sit straight up. As I struggled with the pain working its way into my pants, another snowball (of the nuclear variety) exploded in my left ear. I fell to the ground knowing my defeat was inevitable. No one recovers from a clean shot to the ear. Plus, my son, my partner in battle was already halfway to a steaming hot cup of cocoa.

I surrendered, but the dry clothes and the marshmallows floating in our hot chocolate after the battle made the taste of defeat very sweet.

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