“No way!” I shouted at the boys in my backyard who were all wearing one kid’s karate sparring vests, various helmets (ski, bike and catcher’s) and assorted shin guards. Two of them were dueling with upside-down hockey sticks, while the other kids cheered them on.
It was like Mad Max for the elementary school set: “Two men enter. One man leaves.” My backyard had become Thunderdome.
“I am so not taking any of you to the ER this afternoon!” I announced out the back window. “Put down the hockey sticks, and put your hands where I can see them.”
Dejected, they dropped the sticks in the grass, and started making alternate plans for their afternoon. As long as they didn’t upgrade to explosives, I was content to let them stay in my yard.
Eventually, some of the kids went home, but a few came back with improved weaponry. I heard a TWONG sound, following by something landing in the woods out back. I opened the window again to find that they had turned one of the hockey sticks into a huge slingshot.
“Where’d you get that giant rubber band?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer.
“My house,” one kid answered proudly before hurling another rock into the woods. It had to have flown a good 300 feet before it clocked a tree.
“If you hit my house with that and break a window, you’ll be doing my dishes until you leave for college,” I warned the child with the hockey stick slingshot. I watched him for a few minutes, wondering if I should make them all wear goggles or, perhaps, full body armor. But soon, I was busy having a flashback.
Twenty years ago, I spent an afternoon atop a fraternity house at M.I.T., across the Charles River from where I went to college, watching five guys manage a life-size slingshot they’d created from medical tubing and wooden boards. Our nation’s brightest minds were sending containers of yogurt onto the soccer field a good 500, maybe 1,000 feet away, creating a bit of frightened confusion below, because nobody knew where the flying yogurts were coming from.
When I snapped out of my flashback, I called the father of the slingshot operator in my backyard, and told him that story.
“See?” he said. “We’re prepping them for M.I.T.”
Or detention. It’s hard to say just yet.
I hung up the phone and shouted one more thing out the back window: “Have you guys ever used the hockey sticks as actual hockey sticks?”
They mumbled for a bit and then one kid replied, “Once,” before he shot his last rock into the woods. The end of the stick cracked and the rubber band fell out. So, they put away the hockey sticks – until they figure out another use for them this week.
I’ll be here, waiting by the window.
Originally appeared on GoodHousekeeping.com