“Sword” by Rita Davis
Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.
This week, a Styrofoam sword causes more trouble than it’s worth for Rita Davis.
Every day at 3:15 p.m. my son and I walk two blocks to pick his sister up from kindergarten. Every day he has a fit, a small tantrum, or decides to become sixteen months old and needs to be held the few blocks to school. Like a chimp, he wraps his tree trunks around my waist, puts his head on my shoulder, and sticks out his lower lip. He’s four. However, we have to pick up his sister—on time. Without blowups. He has the upper hand and knows I am in a weakened state. He routinely goes in for the kill.
“Can I bring my ninja sword? The huge one? Can I?”
Silas regularly lives on a pirate ship, in a sewer with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or fights bad guys when he isn’t eating or sleeping. However, we have a no weapons rule when engaging in public activities—playground and school included. Never thought that would be a household rule.
When he begged me to bring his sword to fight off scary zombies, of course I said no. About ten different versions of no were uttered while trying to get out the door with my snail of a son. After fifteen minutes of tactical persuasion, reminders, and—let’s be honest—inane threats, I acquiesced and walked down to pick up his sister with a Styrofoam sword the length of my arm.
As I seemingly dragged Silas toward the school, he swung his sword with abandonment. I talked to him about not putting the sword in kids’ faces, not hitting anyone with it, and definitely not calling anyone a codfish. I already felt the eyebrow raises and side-stares from the glowering mom mob. We promote violence! Yay for weapons! It’s ok, he’s a boy!
We were late to pick up Carly. I ran in to get her while Silas hung out on the playground. He skulked around, mildly threatening a few trees, a slide, and a jungle gym. So far, he had not put the sword in anyone’s face or tried to start a sword fight.
As I talked to some parents, I watched Silas eye up the sandbox. A bunch of kids from kindergarten through third grade were all working on some kind of fortress, with a moat, tunnels—the works. His shoes came off, then his socks. Next, he threw his jacket in the grass. He grabbed his sword and walked along the wooden perimeter of the sandbox like Captain Hook spying on Peter Pan. He finally jumped in—and like a real pirate, looted and vandalized the once beautiful sand creations.
One girl screeched. Another tattled to his mom about him. An older boy named Brody literally took him under his arm and tried to interest Silas in a big dump truck. Then a big stick. Then showed him the little playhouse.
I removed Silas twice, and on his third entrance back into the sandbox, let out a maniacal laugh, took his sword, and flattened poor Mila’s leaf layer. At this point, Silas was permanently removed and was in time-out. I shouted to Carly that we had two minutes left, as I knew we needed to leave before a meltdown ensued.
As I picked up coats, backpacks, and the stupid sword, Brody, the older boy, approached me. He pointed at Silas. “Are you his mom?”
“Yes, I am. Why?”
“He isn’t being very good, and I’ve tried everything. I think it’s time for you guys to go home.”
I gulped down a laugh and tried not to snicker. He was completely right. Silas was being a complete ass clown. Brody had tried. He had tried very hard to get Silas to comply, play nicely, and not wreck their sand creations.
I casually smiled and say, “You are so right, Brody. Definitely time to go home.”
Brody skipped happily away while Silas—who had heard everything—went into total hysterics.
As I grabbed Silas to walk home, crocodile tears and wailing began, along with utter refusal to put on shoes, socks, or a coat. As the three of us sauntered home, Silas clutched his sword to his chest and Carly began to sing. Silas eagerly joined in.
“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore . . .”
RITA DAVIS is a writer and educator living in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin. She is married with a son and a daughter. Most recently, Rita has written a children’s book for new moms. Follow her online at www.girlscoutflunky.com or on Twitter @girlscoutflunky.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Dec 2, 2014
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