Our daughter and grandson came up to stay with us over Thanksgiving week. It was a wonderful surprise, and Diana and I couldn’t be happier. I even took time off from work so as to not miss a minute of it. And while I love having a five-year-old around the house (“five and a HALF, Grandpa!”), every day is a brutal walk into the Octagon with this kid. During his short time on this earth, Gabe has managed to master nearly every type of cartoon-inspired fighting technique, to include the ancient Lego martial art of Spinjitsu – developed by the Shaolin Master, Batuo, in the 5th century.
As I move about the house during the course of my day, I can expect to be surprised with a “hiYAH!” and at least 15 different kinds of spin kicks, spleen punches, and fists of ultimate destruction. Even when we are sitting quietly together on the couch, Gabe’s hands will often move of their own accord into a karate chop to my throat as he watches television. I don’t think he even realizes he’s doing it.
As I go six foot and about 200 pounds, and since Gabe is only five years old (“five and a HALF, Grandpa!”), I am normally able to counter most of his overt attacks, though he does slip in the lucky groin punch from time to time. In three days we have broken two chairs, put three holes in the walls, and turned at least 8 empty cardboard wrapping paper rolls into pulp by using them to beat the absolute crap out of each other. By the end of the day, I fall into bed like a IT specialist who’s just gone 12 rounds, barefisted, with Ronda Rousey.
Tonight, Diana decided to give me a little down time. She had some gift cards to a local Mexican restaurant, and offered to take Amanda and Gabe out to eat. I accepted the opportunity to sit quietly in a corner and lick my wounds. After about 10 minutes of basking in the non-lethal quiet, I decided to put my shoes and socks on in order to take some things out to the garage. I picked up one sock and jammed my foot all the way down to the bottom of it, only to discover something else was also in my sock… and it was moving.
Judging by the size and feel of it, the primitive areas of my brain decided that a large insect of some kind had wandered in out of the cold and taken refuge in my sock – probably a cicada, but I allowed for the possibility that a Brazilian walking spider had somehow managed the journey from the Amazon in order to winter-over in Nebraska. My reaction was instantaneous.
I jumped up, slammed my shin into the glass coffee table, and managed to knock all the Christmas decorations off of it. I then danced around in shin-agony (it’s a thing) waving my leg around wildly, knowing there was no way to simply shake off a fully-donned sock (it’s physically impossible), but too panicked to sit down and pull it off.
It was not until I was writhing on the floor listening to the echoes of my 6-year-old-boy screams that the thinking part of my brain finally kicked in, and I remembered seeing Gabe walking through the living room earlier swinging my socks around like a pair of nunchucks. He must have left something in them. I paused to catch my breath, then calmly reached down to remove the sock while looking around to make sure the window blinds were closed and the neighbors had not witnessed any of my idiotic flailing-about.
I upended the sock, and out came a Bakugan. I can’t begin to describe what a Bakugan is except to say that it is one of a continuing series of Japanese mind-control toys that make absolutely no sense unless you are a five year old (“five and a HALF, Grandpa!”). They are small, plastic orbs that magnetically transform into creatures, possibly a Dragonoid or Hydranoid, when activated. When I shoved my foot down into my sock, I caused the Bakugan to deploy (hence the movement I felt). Initially I considered just leaving the mess and making up a story about an epic battle with a home invader, but, in the end, I decided to clean up the carnage and wait for the girls and Gabe to return from dinner.
“Hi, Grandpa… turbo shin kick ! hiYAH!”
“Owww… Hi, Gabe… lightning head punch! hiYAH! How was supper?”
“What did you have?”
“Chicken strips and re-fried beans.”
“Cool. Hey, I found your Bakugan.”
“Yeah, it was in my sock. I thought it was a bug! You tricked me.”
Gabe laughed his endearing evil chuckle.
“I KNOW! It was a sneaky trap!”
“Yes it was. But I defeated the Bakugan with my water sword.”
“But, no, you can’t. He has a force field.”
“But, no, my water sword cuts through force fields.”
“But, no, he has the power of fire which defeats your water sword.”
“Well, okay. You beat me.”
“I know. Because I’m sneaky.”
“It was a pretty good trick for a five-year-old.”
“Five and a HALF, Grandpa!”
Later I started to put my shoe on and found a chunk of Greek potato from lunch inside it. I really don’t want to know the back story for that one, but at least it didn’t move.