“We need more balls!” my wife cried urgently.
Giggling, I replied “That’s what she sai–“
“Don’t. Just get another one.”
We were in the midst of a Clash of the Ti-twins over a ball, only one of which was out in the living room with them. When an item changes hands between my loinfruits every five seconds punctuated by banshee screams and floor flails, it can get ugly pretty quickly, hence my wife’s desperation. She kept them separated like a boxing referee listening to The Offspring while I hopped the baby gate and scoured the playroom for more balls, trying to suppress the flood of terribly unfunny ball-related innuendos I wanted to crack.
Does ball size matter?
Where would you like me to put the balls?
Will the deflated balls still work?
See? Just terrible. Anyway…
Digging through Rubbermaid bins, tossing Elmos and possessed V-Tech animals aside, I glanced back in the living room to see the Twins had dispersed to opposite sides of the room. My daughter was the most recent tug-of-war champion, proudly parading the ball above her head, taunting her brother despite my wife’s warnings against it.
“No, Baby Girl, don’t tease your brother. He’s gonna get angry.”
You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.
Just then, I found it–not just any ball, but the exact same ball they were fighting over. We’d bought two of them precisely for moments such as this. “I got it!” I proclaimed, strutting my way back into the ring.
Then I saw something I will never forget as long as I live.
It happened like a slow-mo sports highlight. My son made a sudden beeline for my daughter–who still had the ball–and squaring off as he approached, his feet left the ground. Taking flight in full Superman form, he ducked a shoulder, buried it in her stomach, wrapped his arms around her waist, and assisted her to the floor Terry-Tate-Office-Linebacker-style.
Then, rolling over, he looked me dead in the eye and sang the ending jingle of the SportsCenter Theme Song. “Na-na-na! Na-na-na!“
(Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen, but I have been teaching it to him and he’s really coming along.)
Eyes as wide as the ball in my hand, I was conflicted. I knew the right thing to do was scold my son for pouncing on his sister, but…I mean, did you see that textbook tackle? That’s my boy!
Oh my God. I don’t think he has a football. I need to go to Sports Authority and get him a ball. And cones for backyard agility drills. Gotta start now or he’ll never win the Heisman. Do they have Pop Warner for one-year-olds? No, wait, you probably have to be at least two…
“John! Will you help me here? Give me the ball!” My wife was comforting my despondent daughter, who had apparently fumbled. Meanwhile, my son performed a celebratory dance that might as well have included a first-down swipe.
“Oh, right. Sorry. Here, Baby Girl,” I said, handing the ball to my poor, disheveled daughter, her eyes welling with tears.
I then turned my attention to my son. “Buddy!” He stopped in his tracks. “No, no. You don’t tackle your sister.” His lower lip began the slow, sad tremble we’ve come to expect whenever we discipline him. He dropped the ball and ran into my arms for assurance that everything was still okay. I picked him up and gave him a squeeze.
“It’s okay, Buddy. You just can’t attack your sister like that…but I gotta say, that was one hell of a takedown.”
“No, really! Did you see that tackle?”
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If not, watch out for my son. He’s right behind you…