Castle Crashers

I choose to be the pink knight. My sword is a body length stalk of broccoli which I wield with a swing and a jump. I even have magic. I get to shoot…wait for it… RAINBOWS out of my palms. I even have rainbow arrows and revival potions. I’m chasing bad guys down and brandishing my broccoli like a wild woman. My tiny owlet companion brings me food from the trees to bolster my strength, which I totally need so I’m happy I picked the cute little guy. Castle Crashers is a game designed for ten year olds, but it’s my first pick whenever the boys ask me what I want to play.

The bear (my 11 year old son) and I weren’t feeling too well tonight so we stayed home while the other men of the house went to do what they do. I took it as a chance to catch up on some homework, but the bear had other ideas. He was hoping to catch an episode of “One Punch Man” (which was hilarious) and play a game together on the xbox. Putting aside my initial plans, I closed my laptop and said sure.

In truth, I’m pretty bad at the game. I don’t hit much, I’m usually swinging at the air. The big furry bad guy comes out I’m the first to die. My bear knows this but he’s patient with me. I think he likes having someone to beat. I don’t really care about winning on the Xbox, I just like to beat up bad guys. It’s cathartic in a weird way. So I get stomped. I get clobbered. I get pummeled. I change my sword, eat a hunk of fruit, and I get back up again.

It’s not unlike how I handle my non-virtual reality. I take things one skirmish at a time. We don’t always win. Sometime’s the battle’s big and people are counting on you so you do your best. Sometimes it’s just to prove to yourself that you can do it. There are days where work is just boss battle after boss battle. It’s ok to take the weekend to recharge so you can build up your strength for what lies ahead. Eat the ice cream. Play the Xbox. Send the dumb pictures of your face to your friends on Facebook. Facing your own conflicts is hard enough, now multiply that by 30 then multiply that by 5.

Every day I walk into my job ready to face a hundred unknown factors every 45 minutes. How are my kids? Are they well fed and rested? Are they prepared for class and do they have their homework? Do they have a home at all? Are they far from their homeland and speakers of their native tongue? Were they up late working so they could pay rent for the family? The lesson hasn’t even started and I’ve sprayed the room with air freshener, handed out a bag of cough drops, replenished the tissues, and answered 6 random questions. I’m swinging my metaphorical broccoli; in real life it’s both mentally and physically exhausting.

So how do you recharge? Go for a walk in the woods? Grab a drink with some friends? Read a book in bed or watch something that makes you laugh/cry? I don’t think there’s a wrong way as long as no one is getting hurt. I’m a prime napper myself when the opportunity arises. And at both work & home, I am a crasher of castles. So fling your magic rainbows – I won’t judge you.

Karen Padden

Karen, Queen of the Paddens and first of her name. Teacher, Baker, Petter of Cats, Multiple Sneezer and Crocheter of Wubbies. Believes in kindness, always.

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