Alright, so I groused about the darker side of festivals earlier this week. And I meant it. But it certainly wasn’t all bad!
“Mommy, what’re they doing?” Cameron was peering down to the end of the green, toward where a Viking village had been set up. There were tents, displays of carvings and metalwork, musicians, a Viking ship, and … two kids whacking at each other with swords and shields. Two adults dressed in character coached them. As one swiped out the other’s leg, the swipee was directed to hop on one foot! An arm hit? Drop yer shield, boy! Playing along with the theme of the day, we were at the Scandinavian Midsummer Festival in Burnaby, I answered, “Looks like they’re young Vikings, honey, training in sword fighting!”
Y’all know what came next, right?
“I WANT TO DO THAT MAMA!”
It was the most enthusiastic I want of the afternoon, one expressing real interest and enthusiasm, even.
Several times I asked Cameron, “Are you sure,” as we stood in line. He was the youngest by far. The shields looked heavy. They were matching the kids upto fight, but when it came Cameron’s turn the nine-ish year old boy looked him up and down and said, “I thought I’d be fighting someone my size!” He knew it wouldn’t be a fair fight, but Cameron was raring to go. Thankfully, one of the adults had a better idea. “Tell you what. You two against me. Think you can take me on? You’ll have to work together – good Vikings didn’t work alone, they had teamwork behind them, that’s why they were so successful.” Okay, that wasn’t verbatim, but it was along those lines.
Before I knew it, Cameron was diving headfirst into a helmet and grabbing his sword and shield, hefting up the heavy thing like a pro. “RARRR!” he yelled, trying on the character for fun. Then with a bit of coaxing, he and the older boy attacked. They circled. They lunged. They battled it out valiantly (I think the older boy lost a leg and an arm in there somewhere), and eventually Cameron delivered the death-blow to the brave warrior they fought.
“Nice work!” He shouted, getting up again. “Again! One more round, you’ve got to give me a chance!” And they attacked again.
Thankfully Cameron doesn’t seem to think of the unhappy yelling Mama moments of the festival. Perhaps they’ve disappeared into the glazed-eye tired blur of the day. But the Viking sword fighting he remembers, and grins bright-eyed when he talks about it. “We killed him, Mommy, just like real Vikings! I went like this! And this!” He’s renewed his interest in his foam swords and shield – Nimoo has learned to flee when she sees them come out. There’s a sweet glow of remembered success, that knowledge that he did something and felt that he was good at it, as he swings the sword around. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken it to bed to cuddle at night.