Welcome to another installment of Stuff My Kids Say. Life is full of daily struggle and it can be hard to stop for a moment and appreciate one’s blessings. Fortunately for me, my kids are good at pulling me back down to Earth. And, I realized this past weekend, so are their friends.
I think you’ll walk away feeling that life isn’t so tough when you’ve seen it from a child’s perspective.
This episode is brought to you by our weekend Scouts camping trip to Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, where we spent the night on the battleship U.S.S. Massachusetts.
One of the challenges of hanging out on a battleship is that Duncan just wants to run around unencumbered by his old man. He likes to hang out with his older brother and his friends, who don’t always want to hang around with him. They are 10 and he’s 7. To a 10-year-old, it’s just not cool to let a 7-year-old hang out with you.
So off Sean goes with his buddies, Jack Dalton and Lukas Rouleau. Sean considers Lukas to be one of his best friends.
Describing Lukas’ value as a buddy, Sean says:
“The thing about Lukas is he turns every party into a war game.”
The three run off and Duncan goes to follow them when he’s pulled back by my hand on his jacket.
Annoyed, Duncan says, “I don’t understand why I can’t run around and why I have to hang out with you, Dad. The camp leaders did say ‘enjoy.’ You’re not my idea of enjoyment.”
He gets over it quickly enough, and we make our way to the top of the ship, where he settles into the captain’s chair on the bridge.
Then, in his moment of glory, Sean, Jack and Lukas appear. The three have been searching the ship for Nazis to kill. They look at Duncan and decide he’s one of the evildoers they’ve been looking for.
Jack puts his thumb and finger into the shape of a pistol and executes his Nazi catch at point-blank range. Satisfied, the older boys run off in search of more bad guys.
Duncan, looking like someone just pooped on his birthday cake, lets out a mournful protest.
“Daaaaad! Those morons shot me again!” he bellows.
I decide to help him get over it by crawling down to the lower decks. Somewhere along the way, he sees a repairman crouched into an opening in the wall, hand reaching for tools.
“Dad, why is he making repairs to the ship?” Duncan asks, adding, “He’s wasting his time. The war’s over.”
Later we reunite with the older boys. Lukas has been on this adventure before, and knows where the bombs are hidden. He warns his friends:
“No one should sleep in one of the bunks above Jack’s dad.” Something about wind.
Later, just after lights out, Lukas warns that there are additional wind problems.
“Guys, Jack’s gonna fart and we’re all gonna die,” he says in a matter-of-fact tone. I understand his concern. It’s pretty tight quarters with nowhere to escape from the random clouds of gas.
I don’t sleep a wink, but we all survive the night. Just after 6 on Sunday morning, we hurry back to Haverhill with the Dalton boys. Sean and Jack have to be at church by 8:30 because they’re both in the “Passion Play” at the children’s Mass.
We stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee and breakfast. Jack asks for a coffee Coolata and is shot down. Sean says to me, “Dad, I’m going to need a lot of energy today. Can I have a Mountain Dew?”
Ten years old and he’s already relying on Mountain Dew. I shudder, then tell him no.
John Dalton, the other dad on this adventure, warns the kids not to get chocolate all over their faces, which would surely reveal the breakfast choice to Mrs. Dalton, who would be none too pleased.
I’m more stoic about the whole thing. Sean and Duncan never keep such things from their mom. They tell her they got doughnuts at the earliest opportunity, because they want her to know that they won.
The kids do a great job at Mass and we go home. A few hours later, the house is full of family for one of Sean’s two 10th birthday parties. Compared to the rest of the weekend, this is pretty tame.
At bedtime, I read Duncan a book about how to deal with your feelings when you’re angry. One page notes that it’s OK to get angry with God for life’s unfair twists, as long as you keep praying and get over the need to blame Him for everything.
Duncan says something stunningly insightful for a 7-year-old. Or, perhaps, he’s just proving again that kids have a clearer picture of the world than we grown-ups have:
“Dad, I don’t see how people could get mad at God,” he says.
“Why not?” I ask.
“Because while we’re all busy getting upset down here, we have no idea what God is doing up there.”
That’s probably the best way I’ve ever heard someone explain that God has a plan and we have no idea why things happen the way they do.
But Duncan is pretty certain about one thing God’s not doing up there:
“I know this much,” he says. “God’s not picking his nose, because he doesn’t like that.”