A Family That Fights Together  

Posted by Brock Booher

I woke forty minutes before my alarm went off. It was the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, and we were going to celebrate it on the field of battle.

Since it was the shortest day of the year, we watched the sun come up during the drive. The sky was cast in a brilliant orange and red as we left the house. We were all dressed in old military fatigues and armed with the latest weapons. The conversation buzzed with excitement and statements of bravado. We were going paintballing!

Somewhere along the way, the game of tag has evolved into a much more sophisticated, and expensive, game called paintball. You run around among the bushes and trees in some designated area and try and tag each other with a hurtling ball of dyed soap encased in a thick pliable shell. When you tag someone they are out of the game until the next round. When you get tagged, it can sting a bit, and sometimes leaves a welt. The measure of pain keeps you sharp and on your toes, keeps you honest, and sends the adrenaline coursing through your veins.

The morning was brisk when we got out of the truck, perfect for keeping us cool in the layers of clothing and protective headgear. Our designated spot sported some small trees, several thick bushes, and a few bunkers made of tires.

We dropped the tailgate of the truck and began gearing up for the fight. The air was filled with the hiss of compressed carbon dioxide as the tanks were attached to the guns, the sound of the paintballs plinking against the plastic hoppers as the guns were loaded, and the dull ratatatat of the weapons being test fired. It was mingled with the active conversation about past battles and future boasts.

After everyone was kitted up and ready to play, we chose teams. For the first two games, the five members of my family were pitted against the other five. A family that fights together, stays together… or dies together. We stayed together – and cleaned up the opposition without a loss!

With the adrenaline rush of the first game starting to wane, we continued to pick teams and fight. Shouts of warning and shouts of pain were mingled with shots of paint hurtling through air searching for a mark. I got nailed in the leg. I shot my son between the eyes. We laughed. We screamed. We argued. We encouraged. We had fun!

With the compressed gas and paintballs all spent, we nursed our wounds and our pride. We boasted of our prowess and our courage on the field of battle. We laughed at our blunders that ended with the sting of paint. We cleaned up our guns, gathered our trash, and with broad grins on our faces, we climbed into the trucks and headed home.

Most sports are a microcosm of life. Entering a non-lethal field of battle with my kids taught us to work together, watch out for one another, and stand shoulder-to-shoulder against an enemy hell-bent on our demise. If I could only convince them to apply those principles when the time comes to clean and sanitize their bathroom…

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at Tuesday, January 04, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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