By Mir
June 4, 2005

“It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.”
–Yogi Berra

It hit 90 here, today. I didn’t notice until late afternoon when I was elbow-deep in mulch and suddenly uuuuuuuuuugh I’m dizzy…. But, um, the front flower beds are weed-free and raked out and ready for planting.

But me being stupid enough to overheat and dehydrate is not actually all that interesting, even to me. So, moving right along!

Did you know that my children share DNA? It’s true, I swear. Though it’s pretty hard to believe, at times. Especially when they’re so unalike, and both can occasionally render me speechless in totally different ways and not even know it.

In our travels today, we found ourselves at a local fundraiser where a nearby karate school was doing demonstrations. They were–among other things–setting up boards in special frames so that the students could break them with their feet. We watched for a while. The kids were enthralled. Heck, I was pretty impressed. Kids of all ages waited patiently in two lines (miracle enough!) and then, upon reaching the head of the line, waited for their boards to be set and then assumed a stance, kicked out, and–



–the board would split and fall out of the frame.

“Mama, can we?” Chickadee pointed at a sign which read “Break a Board for a BUCK!”

“You want to try this?” I peered down at her.

“Yes! Please? I wanna break a board!”

“Hmmmmm.” I ruffled Monkey’s hair. “Do you want to try this, too?”

“Yes! Yes!” He hopped up and down.

Well, it was for charity you know. We walked over, plunked down our $2, and then in return for signing a 12-page release form we were handed two tickets. I gave them to the kids and we went to stand in line.

[Nonsequitor: My kids don’t have terribly common names. We’d been in line all of two seconds when a boy ran up to the boy behind us and said “MONKEY DID YOU SEE THAT???” I let them discuss whatever super-important thing they were talking about, for a minute, and then I turned around and said, “Hey, is your name Monkey?” He nodded, and I said, “Cool! His name is Monkey, too!” Whereupon my Monkey flung his arms around me and buried his (widely grinning) face into my hip as these other two (older) boys said things like NO WAY! and COOL!]

When we were about 3 kids from the front of the line, the child who likes to collect garbage suddenly had an epiphany.

“Mama! Are they going to TAKE my TICKET??”

“Yes, they take the ticket and then you get a chance kicking a board.” I realized–even as I was saying it–that I had misjudged this. He was going to have a fit. Tickets of any sort are just about his favorite thing. He makes tickets, constantly. Oh, look, it’s a bunch of scraps of paper. NO MAMA! THOSE ARE TICKETS! Etc.

“I… I want to keep my ticket.”

“Yeah. Um. Hmmm. Do you want to kick the board?”

“No. Wait!” His gaze followed a little girl walking around with some board pieces. “Do I get to KEEP the board?” Aha!

“YES! Yes, you DO get to keep the board. Isn’t that a GREAT TRADE for that tiny little ticket?”

“Can I have the ticket AND a board?”

“Sorry, buddy. One or the other. If you want the board, you have to turn in the ticket.”

We’d made it to the front of the line, and I left Monkey to mull this over as I guided Chickadee to the kicking spot and offered to hold her shoe. A student set her board and gave her a quick how-to on what part of her foot to use, how to kick out, etc. She looked unsure, and kicked out tentatively, striking the board with the ball of her foot. The student gently corrected her, reminding her to use her heel, and encouraging her to try again.

“I can’t.” She had just become aware of all the kids in line behind her. I could see her shoulders creeping towards her ears. I leaned down quickly to break her sightline towards everyone behind her, and took her chin in my hand.

“Hey. It’s your turn, and everyone will wait until you’re done.”

“I can’t do it right.” Now she tried to look down, but I still had her chin.

“Liar, you can too.” I like to insult my kids; I think it’s a mark of fine parenting. “Let’s just line you up, here, and you’re gonna whack that board REALLY HARD with, let’s see, right, THIS part of your foot, right here at your heel. Yep, that’s it.” She was slow-motioning the move while I rested one hand on her shoulders and stretched her leg out with my other hand. “Perfect! Now you’ve got it. Okay, I’m gonna stand back.” I took two paces backwards and panicked slightly, wondering what I would say, next, when she kicked the board and again it failed to budge.



Holy crap.

I’d barely had time to register it, myself, as Chickadee’s face transformed as she realized what she’d just done. I had a moment to collect myself while she scampered to gather up her board halves. By the time she’d returned to my side (still positively BEAMING) and I’d choked out some praise about what a badass she was (I don’t think I said badass… I hope I didn’t say badass), the student was setting up a board for Monkey. And my dear, sweet Monkey? Looked completely horrified.

Time to switch Mama gears.

I leaned down and whispered in Monkey’s ear. “You don’t have to kick if you don’t want to. You can still have the board.” Relief washed over his face.

“Scuse me!” he poked the student’s back (he was still setting up). “I don’t want it in that thing, cuz I don’t want to kick it. It might break! I would just like to take it with me. Please.” The student was puzzled, and looked to me for confirmation. I nodded. He removed the board from the frame and handed it to Monkey, who turned over his ticket without complaint. “I love this board,” he sighed, hugging it to his chest.

So siblings have, what, 50% shared DNA? Just goes to show, pacifists and assassins have a lot more in common than you might guess.


  1. Clarity

    And sometimes it gets even better. Every huge once in a while, when the planets align just right or it’s a full moon on a friday the 13th in a leap year, their polar opposite personalities can actually compliment each other. Like today, when my own assassin had a wonderful time systematically chopping an earthworm into 3 oozing and squirming peices and then my pacifist got the distinct pleasure of taping it back together with bandaids. Teamwork is a beautiful thing ;)

  2. Laura

    You are a great mom!

  3. Zee

    Wow, this was such a great story. I can imagine it, but I wish I could have seen the look on Chickadee’s face when she cracked that board. :)

  4. Leanne

    Here I am beaming with pride (even caught a bit of a tear welling up in my eyes, I hope you’re happy) over Chickadee’s accomplishment, and wind up guffawing over Monkey’s preference to keep the board.

    I thought for sure he would have tried to outdo sis and crack it on the first try!

    Get that boy some spray paint, mom!


  5. Kraken

    Have you ever read Lewis Carroll’s stories about Bruno and Sylvie? You should take a look at them some day. Your stories remind of them at times.

  6. Mom

    Strange — not dissimilar from my own two children. Genetics are a strange and wonderful thing.


  7. Fraulein N

    Monkey kills me, what with the collecting and making of tickets. Hee. Reminds me of my own childhood.

  8. Zuska

    …I can just picture Monkey using his empty tissue box (I assume it’s empty by now, no?) as a ticket receptacle, lol!

  9. Hula Doula

    Wow! Does she kick his tush on a regular basis too?

  10. HomefrontSix

    So when are you signing Chickadee up for martial arts lessons?

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