The Birthday Party
It is a few minutes after 11 and the boys are watching a movie. I sit 15 feet behind them, typing away on the laptop. My good friend Cab Calloway is singing about Minnie The Moocher and I am praying that these rambunctious lads decide that now is a good time to close their eyes. We have nine 10 year-olds staying over tonight. It is a birthday party for my son and they are having a great time.
I am torn by all of this. My son couldn’t be happier and it is clear that the other boys are enjoying themselves too, so that pleases me. Yet, it is Saturday night and I have a houseful of crazy kids. They have been running wild through this place and it is exhausting. They are good boys, respectful boys who are good friends to each other and my son. They aren’t the kind who are going to get him into trouble, at least not now.
They are no different than I was at their age. While there are some significant generational differences between themselves and myself, I recognize the games and the style of play. When four of them attack each other and roll around the floor wrestling I smile. I am going to be 42 and I still wrestle with some of my friends. Ask G’s wife and she’ll tell you that she expects to see him and I going at it when we are 96. We may be men now, but the boys we once were still come out. I met him the first day of kindergarten.
It is fun to watch these boys play. I take great pleasure in watching my son run with them. These young boys remind me of colts running on the plains. They are on the verge of hitting that ungainly stage when your body grows in fits and spurts. You can see the beginning stages of growth coming. I am fighting to find the words to describe it properly.
I have coached some of these boys. I have run with them on the fields. A short while ago they couldn’t conceive of keeping up. They hadn’t the strength, the speed or the coordination. But that is beginning to change. I see the future coming and recognize that my time of physical domination is waning. It is bittersweet to see it. I love watching this change, my son in particular.
It will be a while before he is truly fast enough to beat me in a race. It will be a bit longer before he has the skills to beat me in some of the games. We’ll play one on one and I’ll win because of strength and cunning for just a while longer. Soon enough my victories will come based upon my wits and will. Yet I smile at the future that I see and at the same time the competitive spirit that lives inside me isn’t quite ready to lay down.
Of course this future I speak of is somewhat contingent upon how the rest of the night goes. If these boys don’t make the smart decision they might find themselves engaging in a battle for their own safety because I might Â have to kill them. I won’t miss the high pitched voices. Without a doubt the deeper adult voices that puberty brings will be quite welcome.
And now I must step away from the computer for a moment to go shush them into slumber.