Of Nerf Guns and Little Boys, My Messy Beautiful

We’ve entered a new stage at our house. We’ve passed through push toys, train sets, tonka trucks, Duplo blocks, and entered into Nerf Guns.

It wasn’t by accident, I knew this day was coming, it was just a matter of time. Or marbles actually. We got (actually stole) an idea from the kindergarten class that Clint works with about marble jars, we started with two jars, each half full of marbles, as Leighton (almost 5) obeyed, or did things he was suppose to do (or just not torture his little brother) then we would move marbles from the plain jar into the happy jar, and vice versa for behavior that was less then desirable. All this with the plan that when the jar was full, he would get to pick out a prize. When we proposed the idea and plan to him, he was all for it and had two options for his “prize” that he was working towards. Either a Nerf gun or the Lego Police Station. The Lego police station was vetoed by myself due to #1 cost, #2 800+ pieces, and #3 cost. And so the goal prize was a Nerf Gun. photo_1

So for the last number of weeks we’ve been working towards earning marbles. It’s taken a number of weeks because most days mommy forgot all about the marble jars. But when I remembered he did a good job of earning marbles, and finally Sunday morning the happy jar was full so we made plans to head to the store after church. After taking our 2 year old to the bathroom (because every store building we visit (or happen to drive by) needs to have their bathroom examined and tested by our potty trained son even if it is only to leave a few microscopic drops), I found daddy and Leighton in the Nerf Gun aisle. Leighton did take me aside to show me the Lego Police Station just in case I had changed my mind…even at 20$ off it was still out of the price range for a Marble Jar Prize.

Leighton picked out his prize gun (this is the first “gun” we’ve owned, I’ve avoided the word and toy for as long as possible). We found three small guns and got those as well, more for self defense and so the 2 year old wouldn’t become the target.

After lunch my house living room became the battle ground. Before I knew it, we had plastic cups set up on the back of the couch and were all using those as targets. The thought did cross my mind “I bet Melanie (my friend with two girls) is having a tea party right now”. But then I reloaded and attempted to shoot the cups again. I discovered my husband was a much bigger target and even though he moved, much more fun to shoot. Leighton had discovered that the smaller guns we bought for self defense were more his size and so he claimed one of those, while Caedmon (our 2 year old) found great joy in picking up the Nerf Darts and bringing them back to me so I could reload (score!). My husband however had since claimed the larger gun for himself (great, because I really needed another boy child to take care of).

Leighton attempting to use the "big" Nerf gun
Leighton attempting to use the “big” Nerf gun

And in the course of a mere 30 hours we have already had a number of battles fought throughout the house. I have found Nerf darts stuck to windows, on the ceiling, scattered throughout the basement, and all over my kitchen. But I have heard all sorts of laughter and giggles and had three very happy little (one kind of big) boys running throughout my house. I haven’t yet figured out if Nerf Darts multiple and divide like Lego pieces do overnight. I have a feeling though that instead of multiplying in that way they instead disappear like socks in the dryer or matching pairs of gloves. I should buy stock in them now….

And being a mom of boys I kind of expected this. I knew that mud would not be seen a dirty but as a natural part of life and going outside would automatically imply finding some or making some to play in. I knew that walking through my house would involve great risk to my feet in the night as I stepped on Legos, trucks, little balls, and train tracks. Not to mention a pet centipede living in a glass jar on my kitchen counter (I’m really hoping that he is still in there and not crawling somewhere through my kitchen). And while I tried to avoid guns I knew ultimately my boys would be running through the house shooting “bad guys” or even just the plain windows because they could. Underwear and Super Hero capes are often the dress code around my house. But despite all of the craziness and messiness, there is great joy in each day. There is nothing quite as sweet as a little boy hug or snuggle, and the sweet sound of both their voices calling out “love you too mommy” each night as I tuck them in.

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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