I spent a lot of my childhood in the backyard. We had the swing set, the sandbox, the big tree for home plate, and no fence between ourselves and our uncle and aunt next door. It was kid heaven.... proven by the doorbell every evening.... the neighborhood kids asking if we could come out and play.... or just asking if they could play in the yard.
I often thought that my yard was more popular than I was.
I spent Mothers' Day weekend with the kids in Illinois. SIR's sister was celebrating her birthday on Saturday, and she and her husband brought their three little boys from Indiana to share the joy. Her parents, Big Bob and MOTG, rounded out the party.
Every bed in the house was occupied, and still there was a need for more. Little Cuter, channeling her inner child, recreated a fort-bed on the downstairs couch for the kids. There were so many, many choices, between the long piece and the middle piece and the one that was headed into the middle of the room, and then, there was the air mattress. It was a conundrum wrapped in a paradox and altogether overwhelming for the littlest one, nearly three (shown on both hands with all the fingers waggling).
SIR is the world's best uncle, a fact that assures he will be an equally fabulous father. Before the guests arrived, he'd shopped for water pistols and giant jars of bubbles. The water balloons were a failure, even with the bright orange spout secured in the neck of the rubber hole, the hose was incapable of filling them to anyone's satisfaction. It didn't matter. They enjoyed watching their uncle try and fail.
There was so much to do that he never go to the whiffle ball and bat Little Cuter purchased on our morning run to CVS.
Shorts were exchanged for bathing suits and the fun began. The water pistols were swords and wands and squirters. The big brother, at seven, was acutely aware of the little ones. There was no hostile "I'm bigger and you're gonna get it!" Instead, he'd rub their heads and check to be sure that their weapons were loaded and ready to fire. Obviously, he's been brought up well.
The bean bag toss came out (you may know it as Cornhole, but I have a hard time with that moniker) and the grown up boys began a competition that lasted well into the evening, long after the little boys had gone to bed.
The ladies went to Little Cuter's Baby Shower (more on that later this week) and left the menfolk in charge. Everyone was alive and no one was bleeding when we returned three hours later.
No one but I was surprised.
They'd barbecued while we were gone, and there was more of that as the evening wore on. Guests filtered in from the party, taking up residence on the padded patio furniture and the steps and the grass and the living room couch. It was a full house. It was wonderful.
I was reminded of lazy summer afternoons when I was a girl, of bbq smoke and catching fireflies and frolicking with my cousins under the rotating sprinkler. There was always a snack or a hug where there was a need. The same was true on my daughter's porch last night.
She's recreated the happiest memories of my childhood in her own backyard, and, as I age and she moves into parenthood, I feel the circle of life going 'round and 'round. Am I smarmier than usual? Perhaps. It comes from all this love that's floating in the air.