Spring Break of a different kind
"Let's turn this down now," I said. "It's almost one o'clock in the morning."
They did not protest. They were exhausted.
While the rest of Mustang Island partied into the night during Spring Break, so did seven second graders in our back yard. Our oldest son turned 8. More than anything he wanted a "Dance Party Sleepover". And his birthday fell on a Friday night during Spring Break. We figured the neighbors wouldn't know if it was us or the revelers on the beach. And so we indulged our child.
We pulled my husband's 1990 Volkswagen camper van onto the back driveway, inside the fenced yard. He popped the top. Instant party. Add a campfire (dug in below ground and lined with rocks, of course), hot dogs and marshmallows. They played football in the dark and played dodge ball after breakfast at 7 a.m.
The amazing thing, besides the fact that I managed to get some sleep from about 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., was that there was very little parental intervention required. This was a group o f k i d s w h o played football at recess every day (six boys and one brave girl) so they already had their differences worked out, I suppose. They roasted their own dinner (with supervision), had cake, played with their glow-in-the-dark party favors (my idea), and generally had a pretty great time. My husband even caught a few winks from his security watch in the tent he set up in the backyard.
Eight years old is all new to me. They're calmer. More mature. And dare I say it, helpful. Our oldest son will actually help his younger brothers when he's feeling generous. He gets their water with dinner every night. He can help them find things, play games on the computer, and work the TV remote. He's beginning to pride himself on his abilities.
My son requested music for his birthday, and I was happy to oblige. Yes, music, I said. Not video games. Not a toy. Music. Sheryl Crow was one he named. He has good taste. Queen was one I picked, knowing he would devour "Stone Cold Classics". He did. They sat around the campfire singing "We will, we will ROCK YOU!" - their faces flushed, somewhat amazed that their parents knew all the words. We spent time on iTunes during the day and compiled a "Birthday Mix" for him from our music library. It ended up being two volumes burned onto two CDs. He got to buy a few songs that he really wanted that we didn't own. What did he request? "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar. No comment. We're still working on Volume Three of the Birthday Mix.
The slumber party was a lot of work, just like we thought it would be, and we were exhausted when it was over, just like we thought we would be. But, a good time was had by all. And I have a new memory, of my son and his buddies around the campfire at midnight, clapping their hands and screaming, "Hop on the bus Gus, don't need to discuss much! Just drop off the key, Lee. And get yourself free…" Paul Simon would've been proud.
Kate Williams is a Port Aransas mom. She and her husband are the parents of an 8-year-old son and 5- year-old twins. She grew up in Schulenburg. She enjoys hearing from readers. E-mail at darwinjw@centurytel. net