My son, Isaac, left his new plasma globe in a walkway while he and his four-year-old brother, Asher, were wrestling. I gave him a brief, fatherly chat on strategies for protecting his beloved lightning ball. He shrugged.
“Dude, it wouldn’t take much to crack that thing open,” I explained. “It’s just made of thin glass.”
“No it’s not, Dad.” He knocked on it. “It’s plastic. It’s not fragile.”
Asher broke in to end the debate. He calmly walked to his brother’s globe and firmly tapped on it with his small wooden hammer. Nobody breathed. At first.
Isaac’s voice rose like an air raid siren. He looked up at me, his face pale with shock—tears spilling onto his cheeks.
Asher was equally astonished at the permanent result of his actions. “You were right, Dad,” he said, hoping to form an alliance that would protect him from his brother’s wrath. “It is made of glass.”
As the three of us boys mourned the globe, the girls in the next room choked back laughter. They had been here before. They knew “Nerf World.”
Nerf World is a place boys of all ages live from time to time. It’s a blend of Looney Tunes and video games. There are no permanent consequences and nobody ever gets really hurt.
For example, I once put bread on my fishing hook at the family picnic, just wanting to catch and pet a pretty duck. Keeping the duck still while my dad removed the hook from its bill was not at all what I had in mind. Nerf World.
I lit fireworks in the dry desert beside our Tucson home. Nerf World.
My buddy and I strung two violently bitter cats to opposite ends of the same leash. Nerf World.
If I hadn’t mentioned it in passing to my father, my friends and I would have gone inner tubing down swift, muddy waters during flash flood season. Nerf World.
And Nerf World isn’t just for boys. When I was 28, I wondered if God had engineered man in such a way that he couldn’t rack himself. I hopped across the floor, flailing my lanky legs around to see if it could be done.
Heel hit man parts. I curled up like a poked sea anemone. Once the initial wave of pain passed, I caught my breath and pondered this design flaw. I thought God would have built in a self-preservation fail-safe.
Turns out, He did. It’s called a brain.
If you’re around boys, you will eventually be in a situation when you ask, “What on earth were you thinking?” If they look baffled, it’s probably because they were in Nerf World which is kryptonite for a boy’s brain. And those puzzled, grimacing man-boys may be just as confused as you are.
Have mercy. Let them live to blog about it later.