I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
October 24, 2011
At four, Bruiser is in that awkward age territory where he’s old enough to play outside with neighbor friends, but not quite old enough to do it without me there to supervise.
This is particularly hard for him to bear because his older sister has the run of our small cul-de-sac, and so do most of the other kids on our street. Sadly, it isn’t that unusual to find him staring out the front door window wailing, while the other kids play ball and run amok– all because I just don’t have the time to stand outside and watch him play. I try to explain to him that he’s still a little too young, but that never works. “I’m a big guy!” he insists ruefully. “I’m tough and I’m strong!” These words are inevitably followed by earsplitting wails and torrents of tears when I again tell him no.
He’s a tough guy, all right.
Yesterday, though, it was Sunday and the weather was perfect. Seeing our street’s pack of five to nine-year-old boys playing together out in our front yard, I smiled at Bruiser and said, “Do you want to go play with the big boys?” His face lit up. “Yeah!” he said. He ran and put on his Crocs, then headed down our front steps, where the boys stood discussing what they were going to do next. I quietly sat down on the steps as he approached them.
“Hi guys,” he said gleefully in the gruffest voice he could muster. “I’m coming out to play with you.” The boys smiled. Bruiser’s always good for a laugh.
“Hey Bruiser,” the oldest one said. “What do you want to play?”
He paused for a moment, stuffed his hands in his jeans pockets, gave them a half-smile and said modestly, “Well, I think I’m gonna fight all of you.”
“Fighting” is a popular game on our street, and generally involves plastic swords, Nerf guns, oversized inflatable hammers and whatever else the kids can scare up for a good mock battle. “We usually fight with partners,” the boy told Bruiser. “So who do you want on your team?”
“I think I’m going to fight all of you by myself,” Bruiser said smugly.
“Oh really?” one of the boys giggled.
“Yeah, ’cause I’m a tough guy!” Bruiser told them with a grin. He held up his arms and gave them a menacing look. “And I’ve got big muscles.”
“He’s definitely got moves,” I added from the stairs. “Show ’em, Bruiser.”
My son went into action, punching the air, kicking and spinning with all his tiny might as the group feigned awe and appreciation. One particularly enthusiastic move caused Bruiser’s legs to get tangled. He fell to the ground, then scrambled to his feet again. “That was just a mix-up,” he told them.
“Wow, you do have moves, Bruiser,” one of the boys said.
“Yeah, I’m level two, 739 points,” he told them. I giggled behind my hand. ‘739’ is Punky’s car rider number, and we hear it every day when we pick her up from school.
“So let’s go fight,” Bruiser said, leading the way to the neighbor’s yard, which is flat and grassy and perfect for everything from football to baseball to four-year-olds spoiling for a smackdown. The older children followed, and as I watched, Bruiser proceeded to open one gigantic can of whup a$$.
He leapt at one and wrapped his arms around his waist. Obligingly, the kid screamed in mock terror and fell to the ground. Bruiser turned to his next victim, pummeling his legs with his tiny fists. That kid hollered, fell and rolled away like a comic book villain. One after another, every single child fell to Bruiser’s mighty fighting power. Within minutes, they all lay strewn in various positions across the lawn. Bruiser raised his little hands in victory.
“YEAH!” he cheered for himself. “I DID IT!”
For the next hour or so, the scene repeated itself over and over again, with minor variations to keep things interesting. During one round, Bruiser was proclaimed Batman. During the next, he informed them that he was Captain Rex from Star Wars. To their credit, every single time, the kids let him win. Eventually, though, it was time for Bruiser to go.
“‘Bye guys,” Bruiser said after I’d called him to come home. “I’ll fight you later!”
They all cheered as he left, and it occurred to me that while there are probably tens of thousands of blog posts, magazine articles, books and movies out there about childhood bullies, there aren’t enough about the silent majority- the kids who are kind to others, careful with the younger, smaller ones, and who still like having good fun that’s free of curse words, threats, and (intentional) bruises.
So here’s to them. You made my son’s day– and mine.