I recently went to the birthday party of one of C’s friends. This was a fairly unusual party because they invited families. Most of the time, you only invite the child and whatever parent accompanies him. This isn’t being rude, it’s to keep things manageable. It’s much easier to throw a party for ten 2 year olds, for example, then for ten 2 year olds and their eight siblings (who may range in age up to 13 or 14).
This family solved the entertainment problem by renting a large inflatable bounce house. The kids love these things. They jump, they bounce, they tackle, they flip. It’s a great time for all the kids, whether they’re 1 or 13.
As the parent of the 18 month old, I had to stay near to keep an eye on things. It’s tough for a 10 year old to keep himself from landing on a 1 year old, and I’ve found that having a parent looming discreetly in the background really helps with that problem.
In any case, I had a front row seat to the development of their new game: “Ninja War”.
Ninja War consisted of the kids running around the bounce house battling bad ninjas. How could you tell a “good ninja” from a “bad ninja”? Easy: the bad ninja’s were invisible.
Every once in a while, one of the bad ninjas would win, at which point one of the good ninjas would fall down with a cry of “I’m a dead ninja!”
Strangely, this was the only point that generated an argument. “No, I’m a dead ninja!”, “No, I’m dead!”, “No, I’m Dead!”
At first C & N weren’t a part of the Ninja game. They were too young, and really didn’t know what a ninja was. They were having fun, though. If nothing else, having a bunch of older ninjas running around them (and occasionally dying) was great entertainment.
Towards the end of the party, however, there was apparently a momentous ninja death. The others all formed a circle around him, shouting “Ninja death! Ninja death!” C was invited over to sit quietly in a circle with the others to hold a vigil over the dead ninja.
Now that’s southern hospitality at its finest.
Of course, they didn’t know C very well. The words “sit” and “quietly” just don’t go together in his world, and he quickly turned their solemn vigil into a slam-dance. I’m afraid the dead ninja was a little outraged by that, but the other kids didn’t seem to care.