September 25, 2009

In Love and War

The newest outlet of testosterone in our home is dragon-slaying. Daniel (as you might well have guessed) is the dragon, and Bright and Zion are the slayers. It happens nearly every evening after dinner, and on this hazy Saturday morning as well. There is one Styrofoam sword, which we acquired in Thailand recently, that serves as the weapon of choice, and Bright is it's chief wielder. Zion goes in close as bate, distracting the beast, and Bright follows briskly for the kill. The sword smacks and pops against the dragon's back, shoulders, head, face and arms until he finally rolls over in "pain" - but not for long! While he is nursing his wounds, the slayers scamper off to their bedroom to regroup and discuss strategy. Just about the time the dragon is back on his feet, the slayers appear excitedly for more.

I stand nearby with a permanent smile, enjoying the whole thing very much. Brave just drools.

This and other such escapades fascinate me. Men need to fight. They need to take on the beast and be victorious. Daniel will tell me of dreams he has where he is wrestling giant snakes or taking on an intruder (usually a trained ninja-type guy) with his bare hands. Men sign up to go to war. They play paintball. Boys collect superheros and pretend they are running each other through with Styrofoam swords. My kids run around the house with bubble-blowing guns, blowing air at each other. Boys and men play American football (which is essentially a reenactment of war), and those who can't play watch and cheer with great intensity. They flex their tiny muscles in front of the mirror at age four. They arm wrestle on recess, and throughout their lives make almost everything they do together a contest.

And women and girls? We watch "What Not to Wear" and "The Notebook" over and over. We ache to be kissed the way Buttercup is kissed in The Princess Bride. We spend our adolescent years writing our names with the last names of a dozen different awkward boys who barely know we exist. We play "house" throughout our childhoods, swaddling rubber baby dolls and whipping up mud pies. Women swap recipes and subscribe to decorating magazines, determining whether they prefer "cottage style" or "eclectic" or "shabby-chic." We buy baby name books and bug our husbands with name options when we are only 8 weeks pregnant. We cry. We hug. We remember.

But then, of course, there are the moments when the line gets muddled. For example, when Zion turns to Daniel in the middle of the slaying ritual and says, "I love you, Dragon."