Posted by: alegra22 | March 10, 2009

the right to ninja kick

bro-n-sisWe just came back from the playground; “The one with the big green slide that goes really really fast.”

At the playground, Sol and Zaviera were having a grand time. Zaviera’s hair was in pigtails, held together with bright flower hairbands, bouncing as she ran-skipped. Her hands up in the air,  waving at the world as she cried out “Wooohoooooo! Woooohoooo!”

Sol was running “faster than a Superman.” He was on a mission, gripping his blue tennisball. Running with his brow furrowed, head down, he would suddenly holler, “Ka-chow!” and launch the ball at his daddy.

All was right in the Sol-Zaviera universe and then Little Miss No Boundaries (from this point onwards referred to simply as Miss No-Bo) arrived in her blue sunhat and shiny white shoes.

Miss No-Bo decided she wanted Sol’s ball, so, without introductions, she charged at him; arms out, fingers extended in the sticky-grip position. Sol took one look at her and screamed.  

“NO! Mom! NO!”

If Sol was Superman-fast before, he was now upgraded to that speedster blonde from Heroes.

I called out after him, “Sol, it’s okay, you can share the ball.”

But I wasn’t convinced. In self-defense Sol threw the ball and screamed again, swerving with a tight fake-out manuever that turned him into an instant and eery miniature version of his father. Miss No-Bo had lost her interest in Sol, however, and had turned on my daughter.

Now, Miss No-Bo was at least four years old. There was obviously something not quite right with her development. With this in mind, I was trying to coax my kids into playing nice. It wasn’t until later that it registered with me that Miss No-Bo was not going to walk away from this with a damaged sense of self. When my son hissed, Miss No-Bo just spread her arms further, wiggled her fingers and picked up speed.

Zaviera whizzed by Miss No-Bo in what Dan and I think must have been a distraction tactic to give Sol some time to get away. What Zaviera didn’t expect was Miss No-Bo to reach those open arms around her and try to pull her in for a bear hug. Zaviera panicked. Sol turned on his heel and swooped in to save his sister with a half-twist ninja kick and a big brother growl.

“Leave Zavy-eda alone! Go way from my sister!”

This all happened so quickly that Dan and I were caught in that pull between trying not to laugh and damage control. Miss No-Bo’s grandmother finally stepped with a shiny distraction and Dan and I decided that our time at the playground was over. Hungry, tired kids and a catalyst like Miss No-Bo was not a chemistry we wanted to play with.

Once we were in the car Dan turned to me and said, “Something was seriously wrong with that little girl. She had zero boundaries.”


“But how beautiful was it to see Sol and Zaviera stick up for one another? I love that. They fight like crazy but they are going to take good care of eachother.”

“Yes, they are.”

And then I thought of something. I turned to my kids in the backseat and said, “You know what? If someone scares you it is okay to scream and run away. Sometimes some people make you feel yucky and you don’t have to share your ball with them or let them hug you.”

“Yeah, because some people make me angry and I just want to run real, real fast.” Sol said, biting his lip and considering my words.

Zaviera piped in by waving her hands at the now-imaginary playground and putting on her stern face, “Bad boy! Bad boy go away!” (because obviously if Miss No-Bo was bad, she had to be a boy!)

“That is right, you took really good care of your little sister Sol, protecting her like that.”

“Yeah and she protected me, because we’re a family and sometimes people chase us and we don’t like that.”

“That’s right son.”

Because while I want my kids to be kind and generous, I also want them to know they have the right to do a half-twist ninja kick and scream like a banshee if someone comes at them with too-open arms and sticky-grip fingers.



  1. Life’s lessons and what we can learn about the world on the playground.

    Wife Prince and I put great emphasis on the friendship developed between Boy Prince and Girl Prince – at 19 months apart it was going to be best friends or worst enemies…well at 6 & 7 now, it’s best friends. We hope it keeps.

    Sister Prince and I were the other. The resulting scars (among other things) required hours of healing introspection. I think, generally, too little effort is put into nurturing the relationships between siblings. Healthy families know that those relationships require work just as marriages do, and perhaps more so given the lack of a viable escape plan.

    You & Hubby Clarke seized a great opportunity Alegra – well played.


    • Our babies are 23 months apart (they were actually due on exactly the same day but Z came a month early), and their sense of family has always been priority to us. They both have Big (with a Capital B) personalities and different natures but while they can fight like a Titan clash, they are also quickly becoming the best of friends.

      I agree on the relationship issue. I think that some people expect them to be self-maintaining but they are an active, daily choice. Actions and years do deposit into a sort of relationship ‘bank account’ we can coast on but not for long, and why would we want to?

      And thank you, after the initial shock of the moment passed, I realized that my kids were simply responding to their instincts and I didn’t want to talk them out of that. I also wanted to acknowledge how well they had taken care of one another – every time I have witnessed that sort of thing it has added so much to my heart. I am so proud of the two of them, especially because in those moments it is their very own unique personalities surfacing and I discover something about them.

  2. So I shouldn’t be running at people in the office with too-open arms? That’s wrong? Well, that would explain a lot of things.

    • Greg, if you think about it, what person would not rise up in joy at the sight of a sasquatch with too-open arms and sticky grip fingers charging at them?
      My friend, spread your arms and be free. This is why you keep me around. To remind you of the simple truths.

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