DS i XL Grenade

Sometimes you just have to jump on the grenade. If you’ve been reading along with this blog you know my opinion of the DS and it’s not very high. I like people games instead of computer games. It’s not that I dislike computer games – I love them – but not to the extent that kids play them today. There is a disconnect occurring between children today and other children. They’re playing games too much by themselves and with a computer and not interacting with others. We’re social animals and this can’t be good for the upcoming generation. So that’s the set-up.

The camera zooms in on my face. It’s Sunday morning and it’s my birthday. No wait. Rewind. Go back to Saturday afternoon. The day before. I’m home after yoga class (a good day with 19 people and good pranic energy in the room). Mom-ita and M-ito are out shopping for various things including my birthday gift. The phone rings. It’s Mom-ita.

“M-ito has a gift all picked out for you,” she says cagily.

“Okay… ” I say, waiting for what sounds like is coming after. I’m picturing some Warhammer figures (a new game we’re playing together at a shop in Manhattan), or something yoga-like, maybe a cool stuffed animal that he will get soon after he gives it to me.

“It’s a DS,” she says quietly and waits.

“A what?” I ask.

“A DS i XL. He says you’ve always wanted one and that if you get one – you and he can play the game together at the same time.” She waits again. “He said you need the DS i XL version because it’s a bigger screen and you can’t see the small screen very well.” I think she’s trying to hold back laughter now but I can’t tell.”

I rack my brain. Have I ever told him I wanted a DS? Have I ever told him how much that would mean to me? If I did, and it’s possible, it was only to make him feel better because I would never in my life think that I would get one without someone forcing me to play with a gun to my head. Perhaps I have overstated that a little.  I took a deep breath and exhaled. We have only M-ito. “Of course,” I said. “That’s very sweet. I’ll take the XL and I’ll jump on the grenade. It’s my turn. You’ve been playing Harry Potter on the Wii all summer (and loving it I should say because Mom-ita loves to play the Lego games) so it’s my turn.”

Now she laughs. “This is your iPad, you know,” she says when she gets her breath back.

“Thanks,” I say. An iPad. Oh that hurts. She did that on purpose.

M-ito couldn’t wait so I opened my gift that night.

Fast forward to the next morning, October 3, birthday morning.

I sleep until almost 7:30am and it’s wonderful. The bed is so warm beneath the comforter. The wind is blowing outside and making the shades move back and forth. M-ito is staring at me from a few inches away. “Happy birthday,” he says, eyes full of mischief. “Let’s play your DS.”

And with a hug, a heartfelt sigh, and a smile, I say, “Yes. Let’s play with my DS. I’ll need your help setting it up.”

Forty-nine  years on this planet and still counting.

A Perfect Day

They don’t happen too often but when they do they tend to be simple, just like this past Saturday.

  • Wake up at 6am to do yoga practice and prepare for morning class. Asana and seated meditation then shower and get dressed for class.
  • 7:15am take Spike-ito out for a walk.
  • 8:30am leave to teach morning yoga class. M-ito and Mom-ita are still asleep.
  • 9:15-10:45am teach class – students are back from vacations, class is packed, and life is good.
  • 11:30am back home for brunch with Mom-ita and M-ito.
  • 12:30pm take Spike-ito out for walk with M-ito. We talk about Warhammer games (our newest father son obsession), school, life in general.
  • 1:30-4:30pm lazing around on couch with M-ito, him watching Saturday afternoon TV shows, me napping on and off, Mom-ita reading, napping, cleaning.
  • 5pm head out with M-ito to the dog run for the first time. Mom-ita is napping.
  • 6-6:45pm Watch Spike-ito make friends and play at the dog run. M-ito at first watches from the bench trying to read his book. Then after five minutes of watching Spike-ito run, wrestle, crash into cement pylons, run, run, and run some more with his new pals, M-ito gets up and joins in. He chases Spike-ito then meets the other dogs, moves our stuff next to the other owners on the other bench, and starts up conversations with the other owners like, “What kind of dog is yours? How old is he? Where did you get him?” It’s hard not to smile while you’re at the dog run. It’s a pretty happy place and the happiness is infectious. I marvel at my son and how he, as an eight year old boy holds himself and interacts with adults. As the dogs start to get tired we collar Spike-ito up and walk him home. All the way home we talk about the experience, what we learned about Spike-ito (he’s a high energy dog, loves to run, is faster than the average dog, gets knocked over a lot but like the energizer bunny keeps on going, loves, loves, loves to play, and how much he needs a bath after all the slobbering from all the other dogs and the dirt and dust) and what we’d like to do when we get home.
  • 8pm our pizza from Louie’s arrives. M-ito loves their pizza.
  • 8:15-10pm we watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid, all three of us and sometimes four of us (Spike-ito included) seated across the couch, laughing. Ice cream included as dessert.
  • 10pm Mom-ita takes Spike-ito out for his final walk and M-ito and I head to bed. We read for a few minutes then its lights out.
  • 11pm Mom-ita joins us.

Small Gems

1. My son is in his PJ’s. He’s bent over almost double, pulling his pants down off of his butt and back up onto his waist like a rapid fire mooning project. Mom-ita and I ask him what he’s doing.

“I’m just getting the static out of them,” M-ito says.

2. M-ito is standing at the table doing his homework. He’s playing with the newest toy that’s sweeping his school, silly bands (different colored and shaped rubber bands).

“You’re addicted to them,” Mom-ita says.

“Nooooo,” M-ito says. “The only thing I’m addicted to is shiny objects.”

A Day of Knights Part 2: The Search for Swords and Black Knights

I found nerf broadswords – the Marauder long sword. The nerf folks have different kinds of swords but they actually have a good looking broadsword (a two-handed sword, not a one handed sword) and I started collecting them. I bought a pair for M-ito and me. Then we tried them out in the apartment a few times. We didn’t break anything, amazingly, and because they are heavier than the regular size swords made by nerf, they are harder to swing around fast. So, though they are heavier, they are more difficult to use. I figured they would have  a lower accident potential. It’s still amazes me how I came up with that calculation.

I thought about using shields and contemplated garbage can lids of all sorts at Home Depot. I even thought about making them out of plywood, but that would have made things so much more complicated – and I’m no carpenter – this I know about myself. And I was trying to keep things simple. That plus I tried out the regular swords from nerf and they were much lighter than the broadswords and when M-ito and I played with them I got tagged a number of times on the hand and it hurt like the devil. I saw the potential for all kinds of face wounds and broken fingers. I figured I’d stick with the heavier and slower weapons. It would also tire them out. the swords were almost as big as the kids were. Besides shields would mean teaching them a whole different skill set – both sword and shield. Broadsword would require concentration on only the weapon as attack and defense. I knew broadsword from stage combat class. I’d choreographed a one-act play I wrote with a broadsword fight in it. My friend DB knew broadsword too and we’d practiced together enough to know the ins and outs of it. And Austino and M-ito wanted broadsword. Shields would have to wait for another day of knights that concentrated on the shield wall.

So… nerf  broadswords it was.

My friend DB is an actor and all around good sport with a twinkle in his eye when it comes to things like teaching kids about swords. So I pitched it to him at breakfast one morning just as he was getting off work and I was going to work (he works the graveyard shift at a law firm doing legal proofreading). “Want to help me teach M-ito and a few of his friends how to use a broadsword?”


“We’ll teach ’em the basic foot work, the cuts, the parries, give ’em an obstacle course to run through, then have a giant melee – kids against adults. What do you think?”

He only hesitated a moment. He looked out the diner window as if imagining the mayhem. “Sure,” he said, nodding.

“Austino’s father is going to help out also and we’ll get one more. So there’ll be four adults. We’ll be the black knights. We’ll get the kids all padded up with arm pads and bycicle helmets and then let them go at us.”

DB nodded, his smile getting bigger. He loves these kinds of things.

“And I want you and me to show them a short fight with the real swords. Then I’ll do some choreography with each of them so they get to try the real ones out. We’ll rehearse a couple of times before-hand, if you can spare the time.”

“Yeah, we’d better,” he said.

“Then you’re in?”

He nodded.

Day of Knights

Let the Mayhem Begin!

It would be two months before we picked a day but I had my players and the beginnings of a plan.

Disney World Pin-Possible

We went to Disney World for spring break. It was M-ito’s second time there. He’d been there before just after his grandmother died when he was almost 5. Things haven’t changed much, though there are some new attractions. You still can’t tell what’s real and what’s fake. Is that a real rock or some kind of plaster one? Is that wood or molded plaster? Is that a creature or an animatronics animal? It’s like Alice falling down into the rabbit hole sometimes. Other times it is wonderful and beautiful. Most of the flowers are real and they take your breath away.

The first three days were hard because Mom-ita and me , well, we both (me more I have to admit) thought M-ito would want to go on the rides. And M-ito is not a rides kind of kid. He’s gentler and not into roller coasters. He wants to be that kind of kid but knows he’s not. He kept saying no to rides and Mom-ita and me kept getting more and more frustrated about suggesting rides to go on. Finally we got on line for Goofy’s Barnstorming Rollar Coaster – a mild one that’s good for starting kinds off on these kinds of rides so the guide-book says, and as soon as we got on line the coaster roared by. M-ito looked at me and said, “No. I’m not going on.” I said, “That sounds fine to me.” Then we sat down just past where the line started and I told him how proud I was of him for knowing what he could do and what he couldn’t do. I told him this was a great quality to have and that I loved him for it. And for once I do’nt think I talked too much because he didnt tell me to stop talking. He seemed relieved.

It took me until that moment to realize what I should have known from all the clues and hints I’ve had for the last seven years about my son but for some reason have ignored in my haste to see that he rode the rides at Disney because… that’s what you do when you’re there. Well, not my son.

Here are four things my son really enjoyed while he was at Disney and if your kid is like him they might like these kinds of attractions too:

  1. Trading pins. Disney has pin stations everywhere. I bought a lanyard for M-ito to wear around his neck and a starter set of pins then M-ito traded with Disney workers who had lanyard or belt holders, or holding a big board with pins (these were the real gold mines because of the large number of pins they had). He had to go up to them and ask to trade then traded for a pin he liked. My son asked Disney workers all over EPCOT and Animal Kingdom – for a shy child not an easy thing to do, but he did it easily a dozen times. It took me a while to figure out that I should buy really cheap pins (the green label ones) that he didn’t like so that he could trade up for more expensive pins or pins that he did like. I bought a good $100 worth of pins before I figured this out. I’m slow when it comes to these things. M-ito loved doing this – asking people to trade, searching for just the right pin to trade for, and displaying them around his neck like trophies. And we did this on a off for two whole days. While we shopped he was on the lookout for Disney workers with lanyard around their necks. He was never bored.
  2. Kim Possible in EPCOT. We spent two days at EPCOT and did one mystery/adventure each day. They took about an hour to do and are like being a secret agent on a mission for Kim Possible. We completely explored France and Norway doing each mission and had pictures taken of us from hidden cameras, searched for clues behind pictures, ran back and forth from one side of the country to the other, and laughed while we puzzled out where the right doorway was hidden. M-ito loved this “attraction.” And I had a lot of fun doing it with him.
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean Become a Pirate – not the ride, that was too scary. I’m talking about the full costume and make-up turn your kid into a pirate deal. It also took an hour (and cost ugh you don’t want to know), but M-ito enjoyed every minute of it. And we ended up with a great costume for Halloween and a great picture of our son in full pirate costume.
  4. Lego land at Downtown Disney. We spent at least an hour on line (go early not late as I think the lines are smaller) but an hour before that playing with Legos at all the different stations. And you could buy your own brick packages (you pick your own bricks and put them in a small container making your own set – sooo cool I made up one myself). M-ito loves Lego. Just beware of being there too late as folks are out drinking later on and wandering around from pleasure island.

Other suggestions. Take at least one day to not go to any park and hang out at the pool at your hotel. Kids love pools. And if the sun is out and it’s not too cold… you will too. M-ito wanted to learn how to play poker so I taught him how to play. We made great use of a single deck of cards the whole trip (I brought them everywhere) and it was really fun. Who would have thought?

Pokemon DS

My son is obsessed with DS Pokemon. Okay, he’s obsessed with Pokemon and playing with the DS Pokemon is as close as he can come to actually capturing and playing with a real Pokemon.

On the car ride in to school he talks to me about Pokemon.

In the morning while I’m doing my yoga, he’s reading the DS guide-book and asking me questions about Pokemon.

At the breakfast table he talks to me about Pokemon.

At dinner he talks to me about Pokemon.

Going to the bathroom he talks about Pokemon.

Taking a shower he talks about Pokemon.

He asks me which one’s he should trade with and for. He asks me which one’s he should keep. He asks me which psychic Pokemon is more powerful. For the record I usually don’t know but I guess a lot. Whenever I suggest something he usually doesn’t need me too. I’m his sounding board, and nothing more. But I’m glad he needs me for something. He wants me to get a DS too so we can play together wirelessly. Did I mention how much I dislike the DS? What to do. The game is too expensive and I just don’t think I could pick up that grenade. Still, I watch the TV show with him and the movies. I like them. It’s the DS I have a harder time with. Fortunately my son has some friends he talks to about Pokemon, and can trade with but I know it is a game played mostly solo and I wish it wasn’t.

In the last month he has played less games and more DS. It worries me. I keep waiting for the intensity level to go down. This afternoon Mom-ita put a moratorium on playing any electronic game and though M-ito had trouble with it, we had a good night of talking, thumb wrestling, arm wrestling, and laughing – something I’ve missed since the DS came to town. Perhaps it’s my imagination. I’m torn. I like the Pokemon thing. I still don’t like the DS.

Leggo of my Lego

“I want to take apart my legos,” M-ito said.

Mom-ita and I just stared at him. “What?” I asked.

“M-ito says he wants to take apart all his legos.”

“All of them?” I asked, with my mouth dropping open.

M-ito nodded with a big smile. “And it’ll be easy to take ’em apart. I’ll just smash ’em up.”

“No,” Mom-ita said. “You’ll take them apart. Now why do you want to take them apart?”

“All of them?” I asked again, still uncomprehending. You see, M-ito has been building legos models for a couple of years now. We have the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Underwater Adventures (my personal favorite), Mars, Castle, Power Miners, and a few others I can’t remember. They line two book cases in his room. He keeps them out of the way so that no one can touch them and break them. Little kids… look out. He built them. He plays with them. He collects them. I just didn’t understand.

“We’ll get a bin for them and you can put all the pieces in that.”

“That’s right. That’s what I thought,” M-ito said, still smiling.

“But Dad-dito will take pictures of them first so we can remember them. And you don’t have to break up all of them. You should save some.” Mom-ita had it down.

“You want to break them up?” I said again. I was having trouble with attachment, trying to hold on to the legos. M-ito was ready to let them go and I wasn’t.

I took pictures of him giving me the thumbs up next to his shelves. I asked him if he wanted to save the underwater adventure models – for that’s what I think of them as, models – models without glue. I spent a lot of evenings sitting on the floor with him searching for and finding pieces for him while he snapped them together.

“No,” M-ito said. “I’ll need the pieces for building other things – you know, like Austino does with them.” Austino and his friend have a bin they build all kinds of structures, spaceships and weapons of destruction from. If Austino does it, M-ito will do it too. Austino is a year older and is M-ito’s hero.

I nodded, then shrugged. “I’ll go clean out a bin.” So I did. It’s still sitting empty beneath the play table. But the Deathstar is half disassembled.  My heart aches a little. But if it means there’s more space in his room…