Tuesday, August 13, 2013

World War NERF

With four boys hanging out today, I knew that there were potential fights and battles that could arise.  Cue screaming and running around - while they pulled out every weapon in their arsenals.  My house looked like a toy gun warehouse when they were finished.

I have never met a boy who doesn't like a good shoot-em-up kind of game.  I know that some parents start off thinking, "I will never let my child have a toy gun in this house, ever!" but have you met boys?  They realize early on that their thumb and forefinger make a great pretend gun - even before they know how to use those two fingers to hold a crayon, feed themselves, or pee standing up (you had to think about that for a second, didn't you?)  It's hardwired.  Just like they know how to make some elaborate noise with their lips to signify that they have just destroyed something (usually you or the dog) with their powerful finger-shooter.

I never actively tried to keep gun toys out of the house, nor did I invite them in.  But at a certain age, it seems that friends and relatives began giving my sons NERF guns, and we have never been the same household since. Like the Lego company, NERF has some smart developers.  Remember when they just made foam footballs that your goofy neighbor would pick apart every time you wanted to play?  Well, they hit the jackpot when they started making guns that shoot foam darts.  And then they realized that kids aren't happy having only one version of a toy if they can collect an entire series of money-making plastic junk pieces.  It started off innocently enough for us with one gun per boy, and has spread like exploding shrapnel through our house so that they each own about a dozen guns (or more - honestly, I can't keep track and I'm too scared to go hunting around in their rooms).

I could live with the guns themselves, if I had to.  But the NERF bullets are another story.  These things must multiply in the night.  Foam cylinders attached to rubberized suction cups can be found under every piece of furniture I own.  They are stuck under couch cushions, inside lamp shades, half-covered in the dirt of a potted plant, sticking on sliding glass doors, inside shoes... you name it.  I have yet to find any swimming around with the fish in the aquarium but I have plucked some off the glass that covers the water.  Of course, after a while all of the darts disappear from the boys' rooms and they beg me to purchase more so that they can keep 'killing' each other in friendly sibling games.

Enter the NERF Blasters.  These don't use the usual darts, they shoot discs instead.  So you have to purchase a bunch of different ammunition packs for each kind of weapon they own.  Well played, NERF, well played.

All of these plastic guns need to be stored somewhere.  They are just long enough and oddly-shaped that they don't fit neatly into any toy storage or closet shelf that exists in any home.  I joked that I was going to build a gun rack for my boys' rooms to store their guns.  It seems I wasn't the only person to come up with this idea!  Just hop on Pinterest and search "Nerf storage" to see the crazy creations people have come up with to categorize and hold all of the weapons.  And I thought we had a lot of guns!  People, when you need to build a giant PVC pipe frame to hang 50+ guns, you might have a problem!  There's no way I'll let my boys see those crafty creations people have come up with.  Part of my excuse for not buying any more guns centers around the fact that we don't have anywhere to keep additional guns, so I'll let my organizational incompetence help me out for once.

Ironically, it is these "wars" that bring them closer together.  My boys actually get along for quite a while when they are shooting and dodging foam darts.  And it's not just for the little guys.  Sure enough, each Christmas my twin brothers (who I will just say are in their 30s) run around with multiple guns and extra ammo clips, trying to ambush each other.  At least they let the younger kids play too.  Usually my boys are recruited to run down the hallway to draw enemy fire so one brother can try to get the upper hand. And so the NERF legacy passes on through the generations.

If our world is ever attacked by a species that has vulnerable flat, glass surfaces, they are in sooooo much trouble!

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