It’s hard as a mom, as your boys grow into men, to continue to be connected to them. I have found that playing the same sports, or trying new things with them helps, which brings me to the story of my single day as Jason Bourne.
To stay connected, I agree, from time to time, to participate in sports that any normal 45-year-old woman with questionable fitness ability, should likely decline. While I have my posse of women with whom I work out infrequently, and I dabble in women’s hockey in the winter time, I’m no high performance athlete. I’m more of a high performance romance novel reader, but we’ll save that story for another day.
On this particular weekend, my boys really, really wanted to play a big game of shoot ‘em up at the cottage – them versus The Rational One and me. We don’t disturb anyone, secluded on our little patch of the Canadian Shield; we just run around pretending we’re someone cool and dangerous, with full goggles, long sleeved shirts and pants, and more guns and paint pellets than any Canadian Tire franchisee ever imagined he’d sell in a summer. And we go full out.
Recognizing the inherent inequality that teaming the two old, slow parents against the young, nimble teenagers would represent, they agreed that we could have the tree fort for our home base, and simply defend our fort from their attack. The Rational One and I reasoned that age and wisdom would be our advantage. We had a classic military strategy – stay in the tree fort, stick together, and communicate where the attackers were – then shoot them dead (which in this case meant put a paint marker on their chest). With a Green Beret-style high five, we were ready. Game on boys!
Now, I’m not proud of the fact that I am highly competitive by nature. I like to win, and I’ll sacrifice the lives of my own children (in a metaphoric paintball game) in order to reach my goals. Although the game started out civilly enough, I could see that the boys were intent on defeating The Rational One and me by any means necessary. I’d never been prouder.
Our base, the tree fort, was a sophisticated treetop lair – with shuttered windows from behind which one can strafe the countryside, and eliminate all invaders. Through the door, The Rational One could see the high land, and quickly realized that the boys were trying to flank us, approach us from the water side, to scale a long rope ladder for a full on assault. Anticipating the assault, we decided to quickly reload our guns for the battle to the finish.
Like Bonnie and Clyde of the tundra, The Rational One tossed me his gun and I refilled it, while he kept me covered. When I went to return it to him, he said, charmingly, “You keep it, it’s fully loaded.” From behind my battle goggles, I smiled sweetly at him, thinking “Gosh, I love him,” and turned to shoot out of my window again, only to find out that this gun lacked a little something. What was it? Oh yes, power.
Frustrated that he’d duped me into using an inferior weapon, I turned from my post to complain to him. I found only an open door and an empty tree fort. Clearly our plan of “stay in the fort, stick together” had undergone a minor adjustment, along with the part about communicating with each other. Geez, that guy just did not know how to follow orders.
After a slightly panicked moment, I caught a glimpse of him racing across open ground chasing our 14-year-old into the bushes. Out of the corner of my eye, I also saw my youngest dodge around behind the cottage out of sight – my god, they had set up a trap! It was brilliant, and The Rational One, who I had very recently renamed The Gullible One, had fallen right into it.
Knowing the only chance for a win would be to have the boys think that I was still in the tree fort, I became Jason Bourne. Seeing a slim window of opportunity I decided I needed to “move, move, move” to get into a hiding place that would allow me to shoot them as they approached the tree fort but remain unseen until they were close to it. I was convinced my partner, The Gullible One, would be dead (paintball dead) very shortly. It was up to me to save our tree fort, our pride, and our reputations.
While my youngest was still circling behind the cottage, I leapt from the tree fort to the ground and spying a wood shed that was unoccupied, but with a good sight line to the tree fort, took off at a run up the hill. Legs pumping, lungs straining, I knew that if I could get to the shed before the youngest came out from behind the cottage, I would be in the best position possible to win the game.
The problem with these games is that you do imagine and, heck, actually believe while you’re in it that you really are Jason Bourne, with immense physical prowess and acute reflexes. Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I am just a 45-year-old with marginal fitness levels. I tripped and fell over a smallish rock, and went flying into the dusty path.
Landing with a grunt of pain, and dropping my gun into the dirt, my youngest came around the corner of the cottage to find me lying, unarmed, at his feet. He was so shocked that for a moment, he forgot to shoot me. In that moment, it got a little worse –The Rational One came out of the bushes, concerned that I was hurt, at which point the youngest shot both of us at point blank range, winning the game and becoming the legend now known as the ‘Sniper of the Century’ on Lake Kasshabog.
As I nursed my bruised arms, knees and ego for the next two weeks, I remembered that winning hadn’t been the objective, but the connection had. Every time the story of my fantastic flying fall is told, and the youngest’s fantastic plot to win is rehashed, I see that connection was achieved. Still wish I had Jason Bourne’s moves though!