Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meeting of the Concrete Minds

My oldest boys are very black-and-white thinkers. When they are pretending something, it is real. I get in big trouble for using words like "play" or "pretend" because as far as they are concerned, that is a betrayal. They have also been known to get into full-blown wars with Ian because he insists something completely fictional is truth. They are the self-proclaimed defenders of truth, even if that "truth" is their own pretend. It turns out that this may run in the family.

A couple of days ago, my niece and nephew came over to play for a few hours. The boys were so excited to show off their clubhouse and introduce Cooper and Catelyn to their secret club and to "Clubea," the foreign land lying just outside our back door.

They had only been outside for 15 minutes or so when I could tell that things were headed south. I went out to investigate and this is what I found:
  • One tear-stained face of a six-year-old, who informed me that "we are in America!"
  • Two boys, indignant and hurt that their cousin refused to recognize Clubea as a sovereign nation.
  • Two preschoolers who couldn't care less about the battle and were only interested in the trampoline (much to the club president's chagrin).
No amount on coaxing on my part could convince either side to back down. I finally told them that my boys could call it "Clubea" and Cooper could call it "America" and we'd move on. I foolishly thought that this would solve it, but a few minutes later I was again summoned to the back door.

Apparently, Cooper had used the club's sidewalk chalk to write: "Yor in umeriku." (You're in America.) Kimball had promptly, and with hostility, crossed it off, violating the strict codes of sidewalk chalk. He was in the process of summoning the residents of Clubea to Club Court by banging a rhythm on his drum (an upside down tin trashcan). Cooper refused to recognize the powers of the court.

Concerned that my little dictator was getting out of control with his cries for punishment for treachery, I sent him in to cool off in his bedroom for a few minutes, which generally works wonders. In the meantime, I tried to help Henry and Cooper come to some sort of understanding while Ian and Catelyn helped me pick tomatoes for dinner. Henry-turned-diplomat finally suggested that the concrete could be America for the afternoon while the dirt and weeds that make up the rest of our backyard would be Clubea. Cooper was satisfied with this compromise, although he wanted it to be clear that he would not be leaving America because, "This is the only free country! Clubea isn't a free country!"

When Kimball returned, he grudgingly agreed to join the international pact but spent a good 10 minutes debating with his American cousin the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of Clubea.

Despite these speedbumps they spent the rest of the afternoon playing well together as neighboring nations, if by together you mean playing in the backyard without entering each other's territory. Finally, Bronwen woke from her late nap and they were allowed back into the house, which was obviously neutral territory and the international friction subsided completely.

Jared and I chuckled over the incident. Those boys are definitely cousins! I guess that blood may be thicker than water, but concrete is even thicker.

17 comments:

Becky said...

Oh that is so funny! I had no idea that an international crisis had been averted!
This reminds me that yesterday Cooper said "Raise your hand if you know what makes America great." I raised my hand, he called on me, and I said "Because it's free."
Cooper replies "Correct!"
Too funny!

Allison said...

I agree with Cooper. Sometimes Clubea isn't a free country.

I love the sidewalk chalk message and subsiquent "code violation". Good job avoiding a complete backyard war.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

so, have you ever read "Lord of the Flies"? ha ha. I guess it's a good thing that children aren't in charge of world politics.... of course they couldn't do much worse than... never mind, I'll stop there. Kudos to the kids for imagination with conviction.

Angela said...

You should publish this- this is a really great short story! It would be wonderful to see in print!

Deborah said...

I am afraid that Cooper might have gotten a large dose of the Nowland "take things literally" gene. It does tend to get in the way of the imagination gene...

Nana said...

'Clubia'? (as in 'Narnia')
Thank goodness there were not enough cousins to raise an army.

Mimi Nowland said...

I loved this post! I don't know your kids that well, but I know Cooper! At least all parties stood up for what they believed in, and could still come to a peaceful compromise.

Tyler said...

You tell em Cooper. And if John McCain gets elected I am sure you can convince him that Clubea is part of the axis of evil and requires an invading army. Just let me know beforehand so I can get some no bid contracts for the reconstruction.

Prudy said...

Clubea sounds like a potential threat to the nation. I think you had better call in some ambassadors quick. The thing that kills me is how SMART these kids are. All of them. You can't pretend like that if you're not above average intelligence. See, I was just playing with dolls and leaves and sticks.

Erika said...

Ha ha ha ha. I read this over Tyler's shoulder last night and we were laughing so hard. How hilarious.
Thanks for the good writing that makes it even more interesting to read :-)
I'm jumping on Tyler's boat- -keep me in the know for the no-bid contracts :-)

Christine said...

That is halarious!!!! You are a very patient woman! I agree with Angela- you should have it published. Go call Reader's Digest.

Steph said...

I think you should write a series of children books based around Clubea! It really is hilarious! I am excited to hear about what happens in dictator land soon!

Michal said...

tyler and erika,
if only we could get some federal funds and some nobid contracts--clubea (otherwise known as our backyard) really needs to be landscaped and our personal treasury doesn't have the funds--or the ability to raise taxes. oh, well. if obama gets elected we'll all be socialists soon enough and then you can help pay for my new backyard.:)

Michal said...

debbie,
oh, taking things literally is par for the course around here. except for the fact that my boys have decided that the back yard is LITERALLY clubea. which is why no one could agree. thankfully they were able to put it behind themselves when they came back inside!

Ashley said...

Agree with Prudy. I am stunned at how smart your kids are. Maybe I'll vote for Obama in honor of your backyard... Heck, maybe I can get a pool fence out of it too!

Nana said...

Just read your comment to T&E...why didn't we think of this before? Your back yard is a shcoolyard - there must be a grant out there for which you would qualify. I always thought you would be a talented grant-writer.

scrap chair potato said...

So funny! I would love to be a fly on the wall in Clubea. I would love to see the boys write a book about Clubea...now that would be fun!

All of those kids are great! I am so glad we have blogging to keep up with them.