Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Doing Battle Against the Enemy

Today, I took Nick and Adrian shopping.  After saving his allowance for a eleven weeks, Nick bought himself a gas mask at the Army Navy store.  It's not every day a mom shops with her son for a gas mask, the fit, the color, the accessories.  I'm not kidding.  He bought accessories, a cannister, a hat, and a used jacket.
The Army Navy store can be an emotional place for a mom.  There was a name on that jacket.  Who's jacket was it?  How old was he?  Why doesn't he have the jacket any more?  Really, it is too much to bear if I think about it too deeply.  Here's why.  I am old enough to have a boy in the Marines.  That means that I'm old enough to have lost a boy in the Marines, or to have a boy who has returned a different man.  My heart aches for that boy's mother either way.  I also have a boy who is a warrior to the bone.  My heart aches for the future me sometimes too, but there is pride in with it for the man I know my son will be.  But today, he was only a boy, only a boy for just a little longer.

Nick shopped with care.  Adrian sent a dozen texts to his mom with pictures to get approval for his choices.  He wasn't allowed to buy a gas mask or a gilly suit.  I can understand her reasoning, but it was such a boy moment.  The two of them shopped, scanning nearly every shelf in the store, the helmets, the knives, the jackets.  There was even a question over buying an old defunct flare gun.  I did draw some lines.  Today, we didn't buy any weapons.  I'll leave weapons shopping to his father.   When I told them that the meter ran out in five minutes, they flurried around the store like women at Filene's Basement bridal dress sale.   Oh, the choices they must make.  So little time!

I've been working to keep the boys away from the television.  It's been pretty challenging most days.  There aren't a lot of arguments, even reasoned and patient ones, that can compete with the psychology invested in their television shows.  What can we do to hold their attention?  How can we imprint their minds with our product?  How will they influence others, by singing our jingle, to buy more of our product?  It's a hard job for a mother to battle that.  Did you know that the psychology of advertising is more advanced than any other kind?  Does that mean that the most significant portion of our minds has to do with how someone else can part us from our earnings?

Thank God for the Army Navy store.  All afternoon, the boys ran around in the yard in their new camouflage finery, one gas mask in place, toy weapons with their little orange tip glowing in the sunlight.  They hid in the sword ferns.  They rolled in the grass, something resembling Paul Blart doing the dodge and roll that didn't quite make it to cover at the mall.  They shot at imaginary foes.  Probably our viral car prowlers were in the backs of their minds.  I don't know.  I do know it's important for them to do battle, for them to imagine how they would survive and come home a hero.  Many of their enemies have probably come from the television itself.  To battle, men, to battle!  Defeat the beast!  You have taken the command post, and won. 

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. Kudos for battle won!... I am also vary of the fact that my son spends so much time on his computer and video games.Even when his friends come over for the day, they all are glued to the screen- funny; we did not have computers and TVs and still managed to have a lot of fun!Today's kids have shun the outdoors completely in favor of the screen.And the advertising...every two weeks there is a new 'Target'..."I need this so badly, just can't do without it!"
    *sigh*...Where have the days gone when a simple football or kite would be enough to keep the boys busy for hours...

    1. I know, right? I remember spending hours sifting through the sand box for a tiny plastic pig I lost. So I may have lost the battle against consumerism, but won against screen-time. It's some balance.