TBG and I have acquired, without any forethought or planning, friends who are much younger than we are. Decades younger. Many many decades.
I'm not babysitting the Amster's sons when they are here playing Leggos. Just ask the 5 year old: "She's not a babysitter. It's a playdate." Having moved the Cuters' toys from Chicago to Marin to Arizona over the last quarter of a century, that is welcome news.
My role is strictly support staff. I find "the guys" and the kids create the world in which they destroy each other. We switch heads and weaponry and headgear and pennants. They fantasize moats and dragons and - as if by magic - out comes the dinosaur box and we have "real" monsters to attack our forts. When we needed "something way bigger" for protection, Construx provided just the pieces we required. (An aside: how sad is it that Construx are no longer available?)
The neighbors get into the act, too. A grandson visiting next door shared his special bag of treasures with us, and, since all the kids had attended Montessori schools, they knew the same rhymes and fell right into a rhythm that looked like they'd been friends for years. And they taught me all the songs.
Last year for Mothers' Day, I had them for the whole afternoon. With the Cuters thousands of miles away, my little friends were the perfect antidote to my hug-less-ness. In exchange for several hours of playgrounds and ice cream and hiking I had more hugs and kisses than I had room for (I had to put some in a special bag in the trunk of my car to save for next time).
TBG came to his playdates in a somewhat different manner. Brady Bunch was cycling next to him at the gym. With 4 girls under 13, she always has a story to share. The 13 year old had come with her to the gym, but was bummed. The big boys were playing basketball and she felt intimidated. TBG, ever gallant, went to the desk, grabbed a ball, and soon the 3 of them were playing horse. The kid had so much fun that Brady Bunch asked TBG for a rematch. Only this time it was 5 kids on the outdoor court at Manzanita Elementary. Elbows were thrown. Trash was talked - "You and Mom can be The Geezers". Shots were made and form was improved. But there were little ones there, and they wanted to play with him, too. So moats were dug and catch and hide and seek were played. After 4 hours, TBG returned and fell onto the couch, exhausted. This was definitely not babysitting; he'd been playing, and playing hard.
We are not wishing parenthood on The Cuters, not right now, anyway. But we are biologically ready for grandkids and Tucson has thrown them right in our faces. And we're loving every minute.