You know how it's important for a parent to mess with her kid, just to make sure he's ready for the Whac-A-Mole game that is middle school?
I do; therefore, I view every day as a "mess-'em-up-early-and-hard" opportunity.
Case in point:
While the Wee Niblet still has affection for his Pokemon cards and is always game for a Yu-Gi-Oh duel, he's recently expanded his faux-manga-based-consumer-merchandising passions into Bakugan territory, as well.
Pretty much, Niblet is hot for Bakugan's balls.
Admit it. They're strangely attractive, weirdly soothing, these balls. You want to cradle them in your palm, don't you?
Don't be coy. One glimpse, and you can sense they give good hand.
If you don't believe your own impulses, you can believe Niblet. He's an expert in holding little balls, and he finds the Bakugan Battle Brawler balls very satisfying.
In fact, he is so enchanted with them that he keeps the Bakugan brawlers in his pockets, where he can massage them, roll them, and tweak them.
Even better, I like to get him talking about what he's doing: "Hey, kid, whatcha got there in your pocket?"
"My widdle balls."
"Yea? Whatcha doing with them, toots?"
"Feeling them. I like feeling my widdle balls."
Then I let about three minutes pass before asking, "So, buddy, you seem to be touching something in your pants there. What're you doing?"
"Mom, you know I wuv my widdle balls. I'm playing with my widdle balls."
Next mission: get him to explicate, with great volume ("EEEH? Cain't hear ya, kid. Speak up!"), at the mall, about what he's got in his pockets. I may enhance this activity by having him take along the Bakugan wrist-shooter, into which the brawler balls can be inserted and then ejected. There we'd be, in front of the Eddie Bauer store, me asking, "Whatcha doing now, poodle?"--and him answering, "Just making my widdle balls shoot out."
After the tortures of Mommy Boot Camp, middle school is, in comparison, going to feel like an easy stroke of the tool.