The kids wiped down the dinning room table as my wife started the dishwasher. I plopped a stack of newspapers on the table where we had finished our family dinner. The kids looked at the stack, curious of what our Sunday afternoon activity might be.
“It’s Battleship Sunday!” I announced. “The rules are simple. We’ll divide into two teams, girls against boys. You’re team will have a half hour to build a battleship and ammunition out of newspaper.”
I grabbed a page from the Tribune and crumpled it into a ball. I stepped into the living room.
“The girls will place their ship on the floor by the couch and the boys’ ship will be closer to the dining room. The first team to flatten the other’s ship will be the winner.”
I mimicked the game by tossing the paper wad as hard as I could where a ship would soon stand. The wad bounced up off of the carpeting and the kids shouted in unison, “Cool!”
I headed back to the dining room table and added, “Build your ship so it doesn’t collapse and make sure you have enough ammo to pelt the other ship. We’ll have two minutes for each battle, and five minutes for minor repairs and gathering more ammo. You’ll have to keep your ship on the water during all repairs.”
Newspapers were yanked from the piles. My wife had little Caitlyn crumple and amass a pile of ammunition, while she and Carolyn designed the ship.
I turned to Chris, “You’re the designer. I’ll make the ammo until you need my help building.”
“Is it better to have a big ship or a small one,” asked Chris.
“The bigger it is, the easier it will be to hit, but the more hits it will take to destroy.”
Chris went to work folding paper, while I tried to pack the crumpled paper tight enough to do real damage.
At the end of the half hour, the girls moved their ship into position. It looked more like a giant newspaper hat than a ship, but it was also narrow enough that our aim would have to be deadly accurate.
Chris placed the boys ship, which looked more like a destroyer with multiple levels, decks and compartments. It was about twice the size of the girls and had a wide base making it virtually impossible to knock over or flatten.
I gave the first signal and the battle ensued. Carolyn tightened her smile into a clenched grin as she whipped the paper wad with full strength. It hit with perfect accuracy and the top level of the boys ship splattered against a nearby chair. The large antenna mast flipped up in the air and landed on the bow of the ship. The girls cheered their first victory.
Chris tossed his ammo, with mine streaking alongside of it. The wads of paper missed the target, flanking on opposite sides of the ship. The ammo bounced off of the couch behind the girls and Caitlyn added it to their stash.
She then tossed her crumpled paper with as much strength as she could muster. It hit the bow of the boy’s ship and shifted its direction by a few degrees, but no damage was sustained.
My wife tossed a curve ball that cut back and scrapped the hull of the ship, denting its structure on the starboard side. Carolyn followed with another pitch and watched her ammo clip the rail and take out the captain’s bridge.
Chris got wise to the girl’s narrow target and shifted as far to his right as possible. He released his ammo and sent it into the port side, denting the ship, but not budging it. I joined him and pelted the port side, but to no avail.
Both ships withstood numerous attacks through the afternoon and the kids’ enthusiasm didn’t wane. Strategies were quickly built and altered, as each situation changed from the outcome of direct hits. The boy’s ship was leveled to the point of looking like a giant canoe, while the girl’s ship, though heavily dented, stood tall.
Chris suddenly got an idea, “Hey dad,” he whispered. “If we keep hitting the seam of their ship, it might break.”
I acknowledge his idea and handed him another wad of ammunition. He tossed it hard, but missed the ship. I gave him another and then gathered up a pile for him. He relentlessly bombarded the seam.
The girls got worried and decided to aim at one spot on the boy’s ship. Two and sometimes three wads of ammo hit their targeted spot at the same time. Suddenly one section of the boy’s ship flattened and the girls cheered. They quickly gathered more ammo and aimed for another section.
“On, three…two…one!” shouted Carolyn. In unison, a barrage of ammo wads slammed into the boy’s ship, flattening another section.
Chris turned to me with concern flooding his face. I gave him a nod and handed him more crumpled paper. He carefully took aim, then released the ammo, sending it soaring right at the base of the ship’s seam. It hit with a pop, springing the ship a few inches into the air, while releasing its fold that was held in place by the side of the ship.
Everyone watched as the ship landed with the seam wide open. Chris grabbed another wad and tossed it directly into the side of the ship, flattening the entire ship into a wrinkled mat. The boy’s won. Everyone laughed and cheered. The girls flopped back onto the couch. Chris and I landed in the chairs.
The game was over and everyone felt great after experiencing another family adventure.