Saturday, May 22, 2010

Slugs and stealth

Its 8.25am and Frost, Wren and I are on way to the corner bus stop where the school bus will pick up Frost. Its always dramatic. Frost is anxious we will miss the bus and so shouts at everyone to

"hurry, get your SHOES WREN! NO! You don't have time for the iPad! Come OOOOON!"

Wren has a long, slow conversation with himself about whether or not to bring his scooter.

"I will take my scoot. No. I will take the bow. Can I put the bow over the top and hang it? No. I will fight! I will take the scoot. Will you carry the scoot down and I will carry the bow down and I can fight with Frost...?."

"COME OOOON!" yells Frost, halfway down the steps carrying his scooter, and strangely concerned that he will reach the bus stop without us.

I buckle Wren's helmet, the pediatrician's words echoing in my mind "It must be instinctive to have a helmet when riding whether its a scooter or a tricycle or bicycle..." and he lifts his chin extra high to avoid a pinch. Despite doing the same thing for Frost, his instincts have worn off and he considers a helmet unnecessary for scooting and downright uncool.

"When have I fallen off my scooter?" he sighs at me.

Of course, I have been consigned to that well worn stereotype of the neurotic, uncool and out-of-touch mother [as opposed to the stereotype of the "dude" - those who get it.] I still insist on the bicycle but after so little practice through the winter I am not even sure he remembers how to ride it.

Frost is out of sight down the sidewalk as Wren climbs on his scooter, hangs his plastic bow over one handle and launches after him at breakneck speed, carefully navigating around the large bumps in the sidewalk where the roots of the great neighboring evergreen have thrust up a mini dividing range across the path.

We reach the corner with 5 minutes to spare.

This is the moment when the boys do scooter fights. That means chasing after each other and taking swipes with imaginary weapons. At times the scooters are horses and they are jousting knights. At times they are a large brother tripping up or terrifying a smaller brother. Today, they decide to scoot fast to the corner and are about to go off when Frost realizes there are slugs.

The bus stop corner is very sluggy. Whenever the weather is temperate and damp, the slugs come out in abundance. Its infested to the point that you can't walk blithely without treading on one. Frost asks me to hold his book. He's reading the sequel to Chasing Vermeer, a mystery novel about Frank Lloyd Wright and fish. This morning he insisted on reading right through breakfast and got nutella on the book as a result. He is now scooting around with it hanging from the handlebars.

I take the book and Frost and Wren walk slowly up the sidewalk where they want to scoot, collecting slugs. Frost is quite squeamish about touching them but does so with a puckered up face. He places them next to a stem of fallen Iris blossoms. They cluster around the wilted flowers, presumably eating them. While examining the ground the boys discover a large glob of sputum and wonder about it. I tell them that somebody spat and it is their phlegm.

It is slightly bubbly. We cover it with grass.

Even when the path seems clear, both boys are anxious and continue to walk up and down checking for smaller slugs. Frost is reluctant to scooter over the grass covered spittle. Soon, Wren tires of this indecision climbs into the garden and hides behind a large tree.

"I am a knight! A bad knight" he announces, hugging his bow to his chest. "You can't see me!"
"What kind of knight are you?"
"I am a knight!"
"But what RACE? Are you a human, a half-orc, a goblin, an ogre?"
"I am a goblin. No, I am an ogre!"
"An ogre knight! Pioowww" [That is the noise of an attack]

They fight imaginary battles a while, forgetting the slugs which revel in the iris buffet, until the bus comes.

Frost rushes to pick up his things. "Quick, where is my book? Oh GOD, my book? Where did I put it?"
"I have it. You gave it to me. I folded the page for your place."
"What? You did that! That's a really bad habit!"

He grabs the book and jumps on the bus.

As soon as he is gone I must take his place as Wren's adversary. He is now a goblin and 'hides' in plain sight to ambush me. I shoot an imaginary bow and he dies with gurgles, then recovers and shoots back. I have to push two scooters home, avoiding the odd slug.

From timeto time Wren develops an obsession with a particular object. This attachment goes beyond the comfort and love he feelsfor soft shirt. After the past few months these objects include:

Gnoll archer
The playmobil Egyptian with a golden bow.
His wooden bow made at Camp Orkila.
His plastic bow from the thrift store.

The common theme is bows and arrows. Wren is very attracted to bows and I recently bought him an old book titled Archery Is For Me. This small hardcover picture book was published in the 70s and talks about a boy learning archer (on a recurve bow) with his friend (a girl) who has a compound bow. Wren calls his twig bow his recurve bow and his plastic bow is his compound bow. He dreams of shooting at targets. Since reading the book he inserts objects into his bow and then throws or drops them as "shooting arrows."

We made it home. I have the gnoll archer in my bag, we park the scooters, hang the bows and head in for breakfast.

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