Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RESOLUTION (01/07/16)
- TITLE: Troop Training
By Cindy Duncan
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With the traffic stopped at a red light, I took the opportunity to turn and give my two young sons in the back seat that look that parents and children everywhere are all too familiar with. It was my first attempt at resolving the simmering beginnings of conflict brewing there. It was unsuccessful.
“Mom, it’s my ball,” stated the oldest boy, as if that simple fact would satisfy his brother.
“But I had it first, and we’re supposed to share,” countered the youngest. “He plays with my stuff all the time.”
I loved having two boys, but real life was quite different than fantasies. “They will be brothers, best buddies, life long friends,” I told my husband the day our second son was born. While there had been some of that, there were also battles, lots of battles. I had become a sergeant in my own home, always looking for ways to minimize the bloodshed.
That is not to say that my children were the enemy, for that title belongs to Satan alone. But he used them against each other, and against me, testing and trying my patience, hoping to gain a victory wherever he could.
This particular day the enemy was using a new Superball in an attempt to divide and conquer. It was a prize from the gum machine, multi-colored and full of incredible bouncing ability. The boys were arguing over it in the back seat, and the tension was quickly rising.
They knew, of course, that my ability to fully implement any offensive strike was limited by my need to focus on the road ahead. Sure, I could reach back and swing blindly, hoping to make contact, but they had also learned to duck and cover, even within the restraints of their seat belts.
My next attempt at peace was going to be a promise of a reward for good behavior. But then I remembered how my elder son had acquired the little ball in the first place. It was a sort of payment for him allowing me to have a brief, stress free shopping experience. Now it was the source of my stress, and I was beginning to feel cheated.
“Should I use economic sanctions and withhold their allowance?” I asked myself. I saw this as a useless tactic, though, as they had no need for money. We provided all their needs anyway. “Maybe take their television privileges away?” No, that would, in a way, be punishing myself.
“If you don’t give me my ball, I’ll take it from you,” said the owner of the prize, escalating the conflict with the threat of physical violence.
“Good luck with that,” said the possessor of the ball, which is code among brothers for “Bring it.”
Not willing to decline any invitation to a physical altercation with his younger, smaller brother, my oldest son was all in. He lunged for the prize, but from what I could see from my rear view mirror, he wasn’t going to take it from his brother without a fight. Arms started flying, and I could feel legs kicking the back of my seat, but the prize remained secure.
“Guys, please, I’m trying to drive,” I pleaded, immediately regretting my show of weakness. An effective sergeant does not beg his soldiers to obey. So I quickly reclaimed my composure, and very calmly and with firmness that demanded a response, I said, “Give me the ball, now,” extending my arm to the back seat.
My youngest son reluctantly deposited the prize into my open hand, and time stood still as they waited to see what I would do. I immediately pushed the button to lower the power window, and threw the ball as far out the open window as I could.
There was total silence from the back seat. I looked in the mirror and saw four saucer-like eyes, and two mouths agape. Shock and awe. Problem solved.
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