The other night, Ryan and I pretended to be strangers, offered the kids candy, then abducted them. They screamed bloody murder and kicked the crap out of us. Another family fun night at the Layton house.
This game (which has become a highly-requested favorite) came on the heels of our decision to let Reed play on the playground with his other teacher’s kid friends after school. Unsupervised. Our school is out in the boonies (in a “town” with a population of 93) and the playground is fenced on three sides. My classroom window overlooks it. And two of the teacher’s kids are 10-year-olds who I have in class this year and totally trust. But still.
We had said no earlier in the year. I was actually leaning toward yes, but Ryan didn’t feel comfortable with it. Then Friday, Reed was talking with the other kids in a supervised area and they all decided to go to the playground. He came up the stairs to my classroom in tears. I guess the puppy dog face did me in. That night I talked it over with Daddy, and we relented. Then we gave a list of safety and behavior rules. We even practiced what to do if the other kids started saying bad words. Or being a bully. Or vandalizing. I probably gave him more ideas for mischief than any of them would ever come up with. Then we talked about what to do if a stranger came to the playground. This is what started the aforementioned game.
I gotta say, woe to the person who tries to kidnap one of my kids. First of all, they’re pretty stinkin’ fast! And “candy,” “lost puppy,” and “Hey, little boy” might as well be a starting gun, so you better come up with a new way to entice them close if you don’t want to chase them down. And if you do get ahold of them, look out, Buddy! They kick indiscriminately – and hard! You might be ok with Max. He’ll run toward you giggling (but you better be able to back up a candy claim) and willingly let you ‘nap him. But even he will break your eardrum and give you a few hard smacks. The hardest part of this training was teaching the non-kidnapped child to resist the urge to defend their brother and instead run for help. They are very confident in their ability to “beat up” the bad guy. Reed cited his fights with Daddy as evidence, “But Daddy is strong and we can beat him up!”
The game led to a conversation about why people kidnap kids. I vaguely explained possible reasons, which led to a vocabulary lesson on ransom. When I said, “If you don’t give me $7 million, your kid is gonna get it!” Reed was very concerned, “But you don’t have $7 million!” “Well, then…” I struggled, trying to come up with some kind of reassuring answer. Calvin cut in with, “Then we’ll have a problem.” I guess they’ll have to kick their way outta that predicament…
It’s sad that we have to worry about our kids playing on a playground and teach them how to get out of unthinkable situations, but we’re praying it’s worth it to raise independent, healthy boys who can kick the snot outta bad guys!