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The extroverted feeler is turning four. We move to Alamosa for me to start my first job out of residency when he is three and a half. We know a small assortment of various age children to invite to the party.

He watches Small Soldiers over and over and wants a Small Soldier birthday party. Hmmm. How will we do that? Arm all the kids with water guns? It's November.

We set up an obstacle course in the back yard, tell the parents to dress the kids warmly, and buy small key tags. These are dogtags. We explain Boot Campto my son: the party will test their endurance! Obstacle course! Dogtags! Parents with whistles and yelling and "drop and give me 20"!

They love it. Actually we have a great time being Sergeants and yelling.The kids don't care. My son gets a plastic bow and rubber tipped arrows for his birthday and action figures.

My neighbor is present with her daughter and her son, respectively a bit older and a bit younger than my son. She starts grilling me: "Why does your son have so many toy weapons?"

Plastic bow and arrows. Plastic swords. Wooden pop gun and plastic armor. Armor made out of cardboard spray painted gold with a rocket pack: the movie Rocketman. Water guns. He doesn't have any toy realistic guns. I explain that our mostly female cousins had a silly army game that we played as kids. She is disapproving and then I notice what the kids are doing.

My son and the other boys are sitting in a circle, playing with the action figures and discussing them. Where are the girls? Ah, there: the girls march down from my son's room, my neighbor's daughter in the lead. She is wearing the plastic armor and helmet and waving a sword. The girls march around armed to the teeth.

I lean over to my neighbor and whisper, "Maybe your daughter needs more weapons."

She grins and whispers back, "Touche."


IRON NODER: TOKYO DRIFT 29

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