I know I shouldn't, but sometimes it's just too much fun not to play with my kids' heads.
"Did you get to fire the musket?" I asked her.
"No," she said as if that were a silly question.
"Oh," I said, sounding disappointed on her behalf. "When I went there with Evangeline three years ago, we all got to take turns loading and firing the muskets."
Her eyes went wide. "Everybody?"
"Everyone," I assured her. "Even the adults."
Rachel turned this over for a moment, and decided that there just hadn't been enough muskets to go around this year. After all, her class had taken the tour with students from another school, while the tour I'd been on three years ago was just for the charter school. A moment later we joined Evangeline, and I told her that her sister hadn't been able to fire the musket this year.
"Did we get to?" Evangeline asked.
"Oh sure," I said casually. "Don't you remember? They split us up into two sides, one for the British and one for the Revolutionaries, and we shot muskets at one another."
"With real bullets?" There was no skepticism in Evangeline's voice, just idle curiosity.
"No, muskets didn't use bullets, they use those round musket balls, remember?" I said. "They said there was no danger of anyone getting hurt, since muskets have such a limited range and don't aim that well either."
There was silence while the girls pondered this. Their younger sister Alex ran around on the wood chips of the school playground, while the last lingering students either finally were picked up or were herded inside by their teachers.
"I guess someone must have got hurt by accident, and they had to stop letting kids do that,," Evangeline finally said. You could hear the disappointment in her voice, not only for her sister, but for all the other students whom the state would no longer allow the unfettered joys of firing front-loading muskets at their classmates during field trips to state parks. Government bureaucrats can be so joyless and petty.
We got into the car and drove away, and soon the afternoon was filled with other activities like homework, karate class, and play practice, but as I tucked Rachel into bed, I discovered how the day's disappointment still lingered below the surface.
"Dad," she said, after I had given her a goodnight kiss. "I bet they just bought better muskets than they used to have."
I gave one of those who-knows shrugs that fathers are famous for, to concede that she might be right. The state's always ruining perfectly good activities by upgrading their equipment. Why not get new muskets too?
"Could be," I said, and I turned off the lights.
I just wish I could be there tomorrow when her classmates hear about all the great activities they missed.
Copyright © 2011 by David Learn. Used with permission.