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Seven Ways Stage Combat Prepared Me for Parenthood

February 24, 2012
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My hand with the baby'sIf you’re not up on the news, put your eyes back in your skull — the kids aren’t mine! I just work here. And boy, it is work. Caring for kids four, two, and eighteen months, I’ve been scrambling to apply tricks that I’ve picked up over a lifetime of doing other stuff, and stage combat essentials have really helped me keep my sanity intact:

1) Choose supportive undergarments.

2) If you control your partner’s the baby’s center of gravity, you control whether or not she’s falling off the couch. And if a madman with a sword four-year-old built like a Mack truck is running for you, drop your center. Lower. Now lower. Children have no fear.

3) Eventually, you’re going to get leg-swept tired of standing, so sit, roll around, and lie on the floor. Make the audience lean forward! The kids will love to see you at their eye level — and their jump-all-over-you level.

4) When you’re holding up a heavy-ass shield driving a heavy-ass double stroller, think about how you’re propelling all that weight: you don’t need a death grip. Get your upper body in alignment and drive from the core and legs, or you will smack yourself in the face with your own shield rim.

5) Every attacker child makes the choreography choreography exponentially more difficult, so try stacking — throwing one attacker at another sending one child to play with or ask a question of another while you deal with the third, and so on.

6) Do not step into an encounter feeling angry. Leave it at the door, do your thing, pick it up again on the way out, and deal with it yourself.

7) Part of taking care of kids is helping them learn about the world, even if it’s hard to explain lightening in short words or messy to have the kids help repot your basil plant. It’s worth it. Whenever I’m tempted to cheat on this one, I hear Nigel muttering “Stay in process” in my ear. In return, the kids have been teaching me that there are more important things than me being right, that nothing is actually a disaster unless someone is hurt, and how to dig for lollipops on Mars.

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