Published in Akashic's 'Terrible Twosdays'
Every day at 3:15 p.m. my son and I walk two blocks to pick his sister up
from kindergarten. Every day he has a fit, a small tantrum, or decides to become
sixteen months old and needs to be held the few blocks to school. Like a chimp,
he wraps his tree trunks around my waist, puts his head on my shoulder, and
sticks out his lower lip. He’s four. However, we have to pick up his sister—on
time. Without blowups. He has the upper hand and knows I am in a weakened
state. He routinely goes in for the kill.
“Can I bring my ninja sword? The huge one? Can I?”
Silas regularly lives on a pirate ship, in a sewer with the Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles, or fights bad guys when he isn't eating or sleeping. However, we
have a no weapons rule when engaging in public activities—playground and
school included. Never thought that would be a household rule.
When he begged me to bring his sword to fight off scary zombies, of
course I said no. About ten different versions of no were uttered while trying to
get out the door with my snail of a son. After fifteen minutes of tactical
persuasion, reminders, and—let’s be honest—inane threats, I acquiesced and
walked down to pick up his sister with a Styrofoam sword the length of my arm.
As I seemingly dragged Silas toward the school, he swung his sword with
abandonment. I talked to him about not putting the sword in kids’ faces, not
hitting anyone with it, and definitely not calling anyone a codfish. I already felt
the eyebrow raises and side-stares from the glowering mom mob. We promote
violence! Yay for weapons! It’s ok, he’s a boy!
We were late to pick up Carly. I ran in to get her while Silas hung out on
the playground. He skulked around, mildly threatening a few trees, a slide, and a
jungle gym. So far, he had not put the sword in anyone’s face or tried to start a
As I talked to some parents, I watched Silas eye up the sandbox. A bunch
of kids from kindergarten through third grade were all working on some kind of
fortress, with a moat, tunnels—the works. His shoes came off, then his socks.
Next, he threw his jacket in the grass. He grabbed his sword and walked along
the wooden perimeter of the sandbox like Captain Hook spying on Peter Pan. He
finally jumped in—and like a real pirate, looted and vandalized the once
beautiful sand creations.
One girl screeched. Another tattled to his mom about him. An older boy
named Brody literally took him under his arm and tried to interest Silas in a big
dump truck. Then a big stick. Then showed him the little playhouse.
I removed Silas twice, and on his third entrance back into the sandbox, let
out a maniacal laugh, took his sword, and flattened poor Mila’s leaf layer. At this
point, Silas was permanently removed and was in time-out. I shouted to Carly
that we had two minutes left, as I knew we needed to leave before a meltdown
As I picked up coats, backpacks, and the stupid sword, Brody, the older
boy, approached me. He pointed at Silas. “Are you his mom?”
“Yes, I am. Why?”
“He isn't being very good, and I’ve tried everything. I think it’s time for
you guys to go home.”
I gulped down a laugh and tried not to snicker. He was completely right.
Silas was being a complete ass clown. Brody had tried. He had tried very hard to
get Silas to comply, play nicely, and not wreck their sand creations.
I casually smiled and say, “You are so right, Brody. Definitely time to go
Brody skipped happily away while Silas—who had heard
everything—went into total hysterics.
As I grabbed Silas to walk home, crocodile tears and wailing began, along
with utter refusal to put on shoes, socks, or a coat. As the three of us sauntered
home, Silas clutched his sword to his chest and Carly began to sing. Silas eagerly
“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore . . .”