Bimpnottin Nackle

In our middle school carpool many years ago, I rode daily with three neighborhood boys who played Dungeons and Dragons. Unable to follow their strange conversations, I looked out the window or chatted with their mom, who was lovely and worked at our school.

I thought the game disappeared with our generation, until my sons went to high school, and I read they had a Dungeons and Dragons club there. 

My kids remind me a little of the boys in that long-ago carpool. “You might like it?”

The shook their heads. Rolled their eyes.

Then our fifth grader announced that his friend was learning to play with hisDad, and out came my husband’s Dungeons and Dragons books. As father and youngest son perused the books, our teenagers hovered, reading too and, at first, cautiously admitting, “this is soooo nerdy, but reallyfun.”

They created their characters: a cleric, a human fighter, an elf with magical powers, and a dragon-born ranger. And they started on their first adventure with Dad, the cleric, as the lead.

And then it happened, as it inevitable does… 

“Mom, you should play,” said the sixteen-year-old.

And just as I joined Fantasy Football in this house of boys, I am now Bimpnottin Nackle, a Forest Gnome from the Druid Class. I can talk to animals. I am wise. In my first move, I bought a spear and a dagger. I can cast goodberry and longstrider spells, although I am not yet sure how I do either. 

I have no idea what the adventure I am joining will bring, or what Bimpnottin Nackle will do in the heat of battle, but after nearly 40 years, I give up. Let the game begin!

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Return to the Playground

When the boys were little, we spent many mornings at the park. It’s where I made my first friends in our then-new hometown. So, it was a little strange when, after not going for a few years, my ten-year-old son and niece veered in while walking the dog.

They climbed, “Count how long it takes me!”…

…and swung, “Come on! Higher!”…

…and spun each other around, “Faster! Faster! No, stop! Stop! Stop!”…

The dog and I followed the path encircling the playground equipment. It brought back  memories of trailing my sons on their tricycles as they rode along that same path. Of moving from one side of the playground to the other, as they did, to make sure I was close enough in case they fell, got stuck, got their feelings hurt. Of standing, eating cold green grapes, next to the big tree they all loved to climb.

I walk past the park almost daily, but a ten-year-old body at play makes the playground look a miniature version of the one in my memory. Had my teenagers been with us, I imagine it would have seemed even smaller. You can get anywhere in a few quick steps. See everything from any bench.

Apparently, I didn’t need to follow so close back then. It would never dawn on me now to interrupt their play with “Not so fast!” “Not too far!” “Don’t jump off that…”

So, as the dog and I wandered, they happily climbed and swung and spun and squealed at each other.

And when we got home, my ten-year-old threw up all over the carpet. Too much spinning, but still the best part of his day.

Last Year’s Baseball Uniform

Our fourth grade son is about to begin another baseball season.

“You probably need new baseball pants, but your cup was too big last year. So….”

“I grew a lot.”

“That doesn’t mean your penis grew a lot.”

“Oh my god, Mom!” Big belly laugh. “I can’t believe you said that!”

Best laugh I got so far in 2018. Such a comedian.

Mister Sarcasm

“You are sooo right, sooo right, exactly.” Our fifteen-year-old thinks sarcasm is the highest form of humor. I can’t even recall what sparked it this time at breakfast. “You are sooo right, mom. Sooo right.”

“Shut up!” his brother’s first words of the morning exploded forth. “Just shut up! I want to punch you every time you say that!”

Mr. Sarcasm, the only morning person in the room, froze, eyes wide. Innocent. “Why?”

“Just stop saying it.”

“Mom,” Mr. Sarcasm appealed to me, “you think it’s funny.”

“No, I don’t.”

Seriously? I thought it was our thing, that bit we do.”

That bit we do? I shook my head.

“But you never get mad. It’s just our bit we do together. You’re chill,” he paused. Looked at the two of us staring at him incredulously. Then, doubting, “Right?”

The Late Night Train

I wake up between 1 and 2 a.m. most nights. And as I fall back to sleep, a train whistles in the distance.

The sound – from too far away to hear during the day when the city is beeping and shouting and slamming and singing – always takes me back a decade…

…when I was nursing our youngest son in the middle of the night. His warm little body against mine. Barely able to keep my eyes open. Imagining that the train conductor and I were the only ones in the city still awake. Or maybe a handful of people who lived too close to the tracks.

Imagining them helped me stay awake until our son rested peacefully in his crib. Now it helps me sleep.

Mom’s Silence is Not So Golden

The other day, when I picked up my high school freshman from school, I had a lot on my mind. I guess I was quiet.

About five minutes into the drive, he said, “Well, this is awkward!”

“What?”

“It’s really weird that you’re not asking me a hundred annoying questions about my day.”

“But you complain when I ask you questions about your day.”

“It’s better than this! What’s wrong?!”

I smiled. “Anything cool going on at school?”

“Oh my God, you are so annoying!”

How to Have a Happy 15-Year-Old

These days, there are two guaranteed ways that I can make my teenage son happy.

The first, I practice almost daily. I bring the dog with me when I pick him up from school. No matter how grumpy he looks as he approaches the car, he is transformed if, when he opens the car door, the dog’s face is there ready to give him a good face-licking. Then, instead of sighing about homework or telling me I ask too many questions, he spends the ride home smiling in the rearview mirror and telling me how cute the dog is.

I learned the second way today. The hard way.

The second way I can make him happy is by screwing up… and getting caught.

“Do you know why I stopped you?”

Yes, I got a speeding ticket, cop motorcycle lights flashing, my son grinning ear-to-ear in the passenger seat, and the dog wagging her tail. Apparently, this was exciting for both of them.

As the police officer wrote out my $160 fine for going 33 in a 20MPH school zone (ooops!), my fifteen-year-old laughed heartily. “This is absolutely awesome!”