Down Home: Super heroes & made-up rules

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The mind of a 4 ½-year-old boy is a fun and fascinating place. Kind of like a theme park that changes every day.

Joanna and I live about four hours from our grandson, Ezra. So, we get to spend time with him regularly, but not nearly as often as we’d like. But we’re grateful for cellular technology, which lets us talk over camera phone just about every week. And we trek to Buda or meet halfway, or they come up to our house every-other month or so. 

Watching a child grow in fits and spurts is like observing time-lapsed photography. The stark contrast between apparent speed and reality highlights all the fascinating developments and changes children encounter.

Ezra’s multiplying imagination

Jo and I have been reveling in Ezra’s expanding attention span and multiplying imagination. 

After he visited us in March, we were pooped. All weekend, he played with every toy in the house—for about five minutes each—over and over and over. Next, when we met him and his mama, Lindsay, in Waco at the Mayborn Museum in May, he startled us with how long he stayed in each room, examining the exhibits in unprecedented depth. 

Then we spent back-to-back weekends together this month, and we were amazed. He played games of Uno without any “grownup” help. And he and I spent entire afternoons playing with Legos and something called Minecrafters, engaged in cosmic battles. 

Ezra’s also learning to structure play sessions to his advantage. In the world of made-up battles of Legos and Minecrafters, “super powers” are rare for me but bountiful for him. For example, he can add stickiness to his character, so he can hang off a wall until time to pounce on me. But if my character adds the ability to spit super-slimy pumpkin seeds, I’m reprimanded. “You can’t make things up, Marvo,” he says.

Making things up

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In the ever-changing galaxy of superhero conflict, we finally decided Ezra can “make things up” whenever and wherever he wants. And I can “make things up” (a) when we’re at my house and (b) when I win a “super boat race,” which I’m not sure how to win because I don’t know the race course. 

Still, playing Lego/Minecrafters superheroes with made-up—or not—“super powers” is one of the best pastimes a granddad could imagine. What’s better than a ring-side seat to watching a child’s imagination flower?

Well, one thing.

After I spent a couple of days at Ezra’s house, he and his mama called so he could show me his new Skylanders—characters he can use to play a video game with his daddy, Aaron. 

“Too bad they don’t make a Marvo Skylanders character,” I told Ezra. “Don’t you think I’d make a cool bald superhero?”

“They also could make an Ezra Skylanders character,” Lindsay added.

“Exactly, “ I replied. “How’d that be? Then we could get online and battle each other from both our houses. You think I might win?”

“We wouldn’t battle each other, Marvo,” Ezra corrected. “We’re both good guys. We’d be on the same side.”

That’s a made-up rule I can live with.

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