Last evening was spent in the High School auditorium, listening to two excellent speakers from Stanford talking about how to bring Happiness to High School. My main takeaways from the session involve surrounding my children with people of good character and modeling behaviors that promote happiness and personal satisfaction, all while trotting around the world as an expat trailing spouse attempting to get the utilities connected and boxes unpacked and birthdays and Christmases celebrated. Which leads me to a small conundrum – paintballing.
If you ask the Wiggy One to name his favorite birthday celebration, I am willing to bet that he will cite his 12th birthday. It was spent crawling about wet and soggy woodlands in ill-fitting camouflage, in the hope of spotting similarly clad people on an opposing team who you could then pepper with multicolored paintball pellets. As the OH was yet again not in attendance, it fell to me to be the ‘supervising adult’ on this whole endeavor, for which I did feel I deserved at least one “Good Mother’ point. Both my sister and Neville, (a family friend) also had sporting natures and agreed to join in, which not only evened up the generation gap a little, but also meant that the less noble side of my character was in excellent company, and the blame for any parenting lapses were shared three ways.
For those who have never considered it, if ever there was a great place to work out family issues, the paintballing arena is it. The adults were (predictably) treated to pitying disdain by the teenagers until it became apparent that a) Neville’s farm upbringing, familiarity with guns, deadly accuracy and somewhat dry sense of humor meant that he was not only able to pick off the opposition with ease, he was able to place his shots for maximum embarrassment, b) I was a decent shot and had a lot of teenage backchat that was begging for revenge, and c) my sister had an unexpectedly sneaky side and is not afraid to use it.
It was an excellent experiential learning and team building experience. The kids learned that the adults had indeed had a life before children, and had previously unsuspected talents and malicious natures. They learned that we spend a lot more time than they might imagine repressing our more primal instincts, and when faced with overwhelming odds, the only hope is to work as a team or surrender quickly. They learned that experience and skill really do matter, so pick your team-mates carefully, regardless of age or gender.
As for the adults? We were reminded that our kids do have a sense of humor, can lose gracefully and can still sneak up and get you from behind when you least expect it. That when faced with a challenge, they do look after each other and work as a team. And we remembered that getting muddy, paint spattered, wet and exhausted doesn’t always mean things have gone wrong. Sometimes, those are the best bits..