The blanket was stalking me, and I decided to play it cool.

I was reading in bed on a cool weekend afternoon when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. A blanket suddenly appeared in the bedroom doorway. The only thing giving away its intentions was a slight flutter and a barely suppressed giggle from underneath. Any parent with small children has had this happen to them. I knew what to expect.

I kept reading and noted the blanket moving out of sight behind the foot of the bed. A page or two later and I looked up to see it was now on the other side between the bed and the window. This was a very patient blanket, indeed. But it was also bold.

It was only a few paragraphs after this that the blanket crept its way onto the bed near my feet. Again, there was an admirable suppression of wiggles and giggles as it did so. Any moment now…
As expected, the blanket was thrown aside and my six-year-old shouted, “Surprise!” But that’s where the expected took a sharp left turn into anarchy. Her big surprise was an eight-shot automatic Nerf pistol, and she opened fire at point-blank range.

The worst part? It was a girl-gun. A few years ago, the Nerf company decided to expand their user base by attracting girls into the market. They made a whole series of weapons that were white, pink, baby blue, and purple. They called it their “Rebelle” line. The whole idea is completely biased and unnecessary until you handed one to a young girl. The reaction of both my daughters was something along the lines of “My arm is now complete,” said in a voice that would have chilled me had my girls not been so damn cute.

The fun-gineers at Nerf also had another idea. “You know what girls need besides pretty colors? Twenty-five percent more velocity.” Between my wife and I, with a lot of help from Craigslist, we accumulated about 20 Nerf guns over two years. I know the Rebelle ones by sound and impact alone. Without even looking, I can tell if it was a girl gun that shot me, the difference in pain is that noticeable. I am willing to bet that Nerf hired a few female designers and I was now feeling the impact of that decision. Back to the assault…

The weapon firing at me is called the “Powerbelle,” which is a cute name for an engine of pain, and it’s my youngest daughter’s weapon of choice due to its ease of use and how much it hurt. I told her I was a little afraid of the thing, and she took my show of weakness to heart as the electric mechanism was peppering me from four feet away. I managed to keep the number of hits to four thanks to the many pillows on our bed. I stopped complaining to my wife about them after that moment.

There are good days being a parent and bad days. I took the attack in stride, and after some laughs we talked about the need to openly declare a Nerf war from that point on. My reaction, which could have steered towards a raised voice and punishment, went down the path of having a teachable moment. That was a good day. We laugh about it still and I have not been the target of a Nerf assassination since. On a serious note, it reinforced my decision to not have a real gun in the house. Thus ends another tale of the Wild West of parenting.