Monday, January 11, 2010
Have you ever been the victim of a tickle attack? This is the ambush you never see coming – the surprise attack so shocking that it encounters your angry face before ever reaching your funny bone.
You’ve seen it happen – a mom quietly minding her own business, cradling a hot cup of tea while reading a magazine or book. Suddenly she shoots up out of her chair; barely aware of what has happened, registering pain on either side of her ribcage and under her arms. The tea she was holding now stains her top and still sloshes in her cup. She hears something akin to laughter coming from a nearby corner where two little hooligans skulk guiltily. The offenders who anticipated surprise and laughter have achieved only one of their goals and awoken a sleeping giant in the process. They are summarily dismissed to their rooms to await proper punishment while mom cleans up and cools down.
Tickle attacks are part of most adolescent boys’ vocabulary, and for some strange reason my son has a great need to include me in this ritual. Why he needs to see me wriggle and squirm uncontrollably I do not know. I’d like to think it’s just because he wants to see me laugh, but let’s face it, tickling is not about laughter – it’s about shock and awe!
To reduce the incidents of just such an event I foolishly granted my nine-year-old son’s insane request that every Wednesday be deemed Tickle Day. What was I thinking?
In my defense it was a compromise which I made under extreme duress. I don’t want to be the mean mom, the one who doesn’t like to have fun, or bans tickling altogether. Surely, I could be prepared for my son’s stealthy attacks one day out of any given week. But wouldn’t you agree that after awhile all the days seem to run together into one crazy blur? As such, I can never remember when Wednesday is coming. This puts me at a distinct disadvantage and ups the ante where my son is concerned. He has one day to get all of this tickling out of his system. Therefore, he must make good use of it, and with Mom off guard the sky is the limit.
But these situations, even when sanctioned, rarely end well. I have informed my children, and even my husband, that I cannot be held responsible for my actions once the tickling has begun. My body loses all sense of propriety and goes into survival mode. This means I will do whatever is necessary to guard myself from pain. There’s no telling who will be kicked, clawed, or flailed upon in the process. You tickle at your own risk.
This has given rise the public tickle attack. The kids are getting smarter. I’ll give them that. One day last summer while running errands with all four children we stopped in at Target to return a couple of items. While there, I, unwisely, decided to try a few things on. The kids were noticeably over it, and began to flop and complain. The nine-year-old had another idea.
Between trips to the dressing room and the retail aisles the kids were hiding in the racks of clothing. I’d finally found something of interest and upon holding it up to my body and examining it in the mirror I felt that familiar shock of pain in my ribcage. I quickly grabbed the intruding little hands and whirled around to face my attacker. Before I could open my mouth he announced, “It’s Wednesday!”
Of course it was. I didn’t even try to suppress the smile. We laughed out loud as he made another go for it. This time I was ready, but found I had to withstand a siege from three more squirrelly recruits as they charged. We received many a justified glare from passersby who were witnessing the greatest blitzkrieg Target had ever seen – as far as tickle fights go I’m sure. Once the fighting had died down, I gathered up all of my little enemy combatants and headed for the door wondering what our next public outing might hold particularly if it happens to fall on a Wednesday.