Five-year-old samurai vampire hunter seeks friend
The way my wife and I see it, we dodged a big bullet moving back to Iowa from Ohio when we did.
We returned to our home state — a place, I can’t help but notice, that values dental care — just in time for our 5-year-old son to start school and begin making friends.
It’s always nerve-wracking, I’m sure, to wonder about the kinds of acquaintances your kid will choose to keep, and it presumably just gets worse as they hurtle toward their teenage years.
Growing up, my parents had to just go by gut instinct whenever I asked if I could spend the night somewhere.
Today’s parents have the Iowa Sex Offender Registry website.
But, my wife and I figured that, with a life in Jefferson, the odds would favor our son when it came time to pick a buddy or two.
Compared to Ohio, Iowa’s ratio of normal people to Xanax-addicted copper thieves balances out a little more favorably.
We had bought a house in Ohio long before our son was even in the planning stage — therefore, we weren’t necessarily thinking about the caliber of families around us.
For my wife, reality started sinking in about a year after our little guy came along, when one August she was at the nearest Walmart — coincidence? — and was spooked by the sight of a man, “covered in blood” as she tells it, yelling about the school supply list for what would have been our son’s future elementary school.
As she told it, I started picturing a guy in a movie waking up in a barn, clothes torn and tattered, the morning after stalking the countryside as a werewolf.
“Do we want our son hanging out at his house?!” my wife, the new mom, asked in a blind panic.
“Well, no,” I dutifully replied.
“At least not before I can teach our son how to kill a werewolf,” I thought.
But now that we’re back in Jefferson, we don’t have to worry about werewolves anymore.
Vampires, on the other hand, shouldn’t be a problem — our son already knows at least four ways to repel a vampire.
(In all seriousness, comments like that make me realize my time as a parent would be better spent teaching our son useful stuff, like how to tie his own shoes.)
Despite us moving back to town mid-year, our son made a fast friend in his local Pre-K class and, soon, a “play date” was set.
At this early stage, it’s obvious I really have nothing to worry about when it comes to my son’s ability to pick and choose friends.
His new pal’s mom and dad run Bett and Bev’s BBQ.
All day last Saturday, when my wife and son were on their maiden “play date,” I fantasized about them bringing home 11 or 12 pounds of complimentary smoked meat.
Hey, a man can dream.
Nevertheless, they seem like a nice family and probably big sports fans.
I say that because right up until our son started Pre-K in December, he had zero interest in sports.
Now he suddenly talks of Cyclones and Hawkeyes as if he’s got money riding on the Cy-Hawk Series.
“Dad,” he asked the other day while I was listening to music in the basement, “could you teach me baseball?”
It was then I realized I’d been utterly derelict in my duties as a red-blooded American dad.
“Sure,” I happily answered.
“It’s just going to take time away from learning more ways to repel vampires,” I thought.
We looked around for a bat, which we obviously didn’t have, and settled on a long-handled shoe horn, which actually looks more like a cricket bat.
We found a ball (a soft, bouncy thing), and for home plate, I went through my collection of vinyl records and pulled out a Freddie and the Dreamers LP.
“Finally,” I thought, “a good use for this stupid album.”
He stepped up to the plate and, with my first pitch, I hit him in the head.
The second pitch was a thing of beauty — right down the middle.
But instead of standing there, waiting to swing, he came charging at the ball, bat held high, like a samurai defending the emperor.
I half-expected him to shriek, “Banzaaaaaaaai!”
The more I think about it, I shouldn’t be so worried about who my son chooses to be friends with.
We’re the weird ones.