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The many weapons of summer

Jul 31, 2014 - By Clair McFarland

From Popsicle sticks to water bottles, we got them all

August begins Friday, but it has already marked its approach with summery debris: Popsicle sticks -- either red or green in hue, lacking color and sugar adhesive only on the small portion that gets used as a light saber handle after the frozen juice is no more.

If we'd eaten grape-flavored Popsicles (the sticks of which are neither Darth Vader red nor Yoda green), would the Force not be with us?

There's a large, cardboard box in my front yard as well, which somehow retains water when I'm patient enough to give hose rights to small children. When the box is not being used as a portable puddle, it's a hideout, a rocket ship, or a fortress.

I keep wondering if anyone who has ever owned my house before me has driven past and thought "bah! There's garbage in my front yard."

That's what I'd be thinking if I wasn't aware of the mystic qualities of the box.

Then there are the water bottles. We have bottled water in an off-brand since every grocery store in town is out of the kind we like (temporarily, yes?), but we're guzzling that water anyway.

House policy dictates that little boys should throw away their empty water bottles, but the boys always manage to invent games with the bottles and delay the disposal of them.

The other day, my boys learned how to shoot the bottles at each other with their mouths by using some breathing sequence I can't quite define.

First, my 4-year-old kept rocketing bottles at my 2-year-old, and the little one was just screaming away like a battlefield amputee over this supposed persecution. So I said "honey, grab your bottle and get him back. Shoot 'im with your own bottle!"

The little guy was confused at my call to violence; he shot me a look wherewith he questioned my true identity. I encouraged him again -- "get him, buddy."

It's amazing how quickly tears dry up when they were fake to begin with, and this particular evaporation made record time as my 2-year-old chased after his older brother with weaponry that I had mistaken for garbage before the invention (er, rediscovery, I'm sure) of water bottle war.

The older boy didn't like to see his little brother given vengeance, but I didn't like to see the older boy given the right to attack and provoke without immediate consequences.

There are times -- though they are still rare at these tender ages -- whereupon children should be free to discipline each other, or rather, to keep each other in check. This was one of those times.

If vengeance is discounted as emotional garbage in our world, then perhaps we should consider reusing it or recycling it from time to time, rather than just throwing it out.

Sure, teaching the little brother to make war so that the older brother can never be inclined toward bullying is about the only method I can think of for recycling the supposed garbage that is revenge, but there it is -- I recognize its value.

Should you ever see my boys' water bottle ammo, paper plate shields, cardboard hideouts, and war-like attitudes, you are seeing castoff materials applied to the best possible usage.

There is a lot of disposable stuff that accompanies the hottest part of summer, but, like summer itself, it's hard to let go of it all. Whether it's garbage or heat we're stuck with, we're holding on as long as we can. It'll be in the dumpster soon enough.

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