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Slices of Life: On brothers, battles and bullets
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Last week my husband and I splurged on a little out-of-town get-away. We were only gone for one night. We figured the kids could handle that without setting the kitchen on fire or flooding the bathroom. We didn't expect any miracles, like the time one of them actually filled and ran the dishwasher. (True story)

They assured us they had things covered. We even trusted son number one to get son number three to school in the morning. Which he did. (I guess that probably qualifies as a miracle.)

We didn't anticipate perfect behavior on their part. Date night always comes with a cost. We figured they'd stay up later than usual and plug in more than we would have preferred.

We expected to come home to empty pizza boxes, footprints by the back door, dishes in the sink and toast crumbles on the countertop. We were not disappointed. All those things greeted us upon our arrival home.

But the first thing we noticed was the furniture. The couch and loveseat in the family room were slightly askew, as if they'd been bumped or moved and then reset in not quite the right spot. The couch cushions sat catawampus; they too had been dislodged and clumsily readjusted.

No big deal. My husband and I have seen worse. But it did pique our collective curiosity. What had they been up to? (It's a question I've asked myself time and time again over the years.)

The answer was soon forthcoming. As we entered the room to put the furniture back in place, we saw the bullets. The floor was littered with at least a dozen of them.

I looked across the room and found the source of said bullets: Brightly colored plastic toy guns. The kind that shoot foam bullets and rhyme with surf and turf. They were piled atop the dining room table.

It was starting to make sense. My husband and I gave each other a knowing look, the kind married couples do after being together long enough to have teenagers. And then we shared a chuckle.

It was obvious; the boys had a war while we were gone. It must have been a doozy. Over the next few days we found bullets in various nooks and crannies throughout the house. I gathered them to save for the next battle. Those things aren't cheap.

Some moms might be upset with living room warfare - especially in their own living rooms. I've learned over the years that unless a bone or window or heart is broken, it's probably best to take things in stride. Foam bullets are pretty low on the risk meter. It's highly unlikely they'd break a window or put a dent in the drywall, much less a tibia.

Besides, when you are shooting foam bullets at your brother, neither you nor he is plugged into any sort of "device." Not only that, but you are interacting the old fashioned way - face to face, or in this case gun to gun - with another human being. As a mom, I'll take what I can get. This was a glass-half-full situation if ever there was one.

When questioned about their use of foam-based weaponry there were confessions all around. They were sheepish at first, but then got caught up in the excitement of describing their epic battle. Sounds like it was a full-throttled blitzkrieg. They agreed on that much. They had differing opinions as to who won the war. We may never know. That's okay.

Because when it comes to love and war, brothers trump winning any day.

- Jill Pertler's column appears Thursdays in the Times. She can be reached at