Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Birthday Get-together

The air hung heavy and thick as we sat on my sister-in-law's patio on Saturday evening. Too hot to move, we sat languidly in mismatched chairs while our host & hostess served us chilled rose wine. It took effort to breathe, let alone eat, but we managed to polish off some fine barbecued fare and sampled not one, but two different types of cake.

The only one not slowed down at all by the heat, was, of course, Ciaran. The boy does not quit. Right off the bat he ran to his older cousins' trampoline, demanding that I help him climb inside and watch as he bounced up and down, sweat dripping down his recently scrubbed face.

It was the annual family get-together/late birthday party for our niece and nephew. Their actual birthdays both fall in July, but since their parents made the excellent career decisions of being teachers, they travel each year until mid-August and host a get-together upon their return. I totally kick my arse every summer for having not listened to my mother about becoming a teacher. For that, and also for not marrying a millionaire like one of my aunts once told me. Kidding. Kind of.

Anyway, as we sat there tired and lazy and arguing over whose turn it was to chase after Ciaran, I was struck by a few different thoughts - the first of them being this: I am so flipping OLD!

At one time, my sister and brother-in-law's backyard was filled with kids running wild, playing catch or tag while the adults (well, me, at least) clung tightly to our wine glasses. Since the grandparents were always fussing over the youngsters, we had a break for a good couple of hours.

But this year there was a notable difference. My niece, now 14 and my nephew who turned 12, have become more like grown ups and less like the playful, mischievous kids they were not so long ago.

Talk turned, as it inevitably does, to how our nephew was born just weeks after Tony and I were married and how quickly our little 2 year old flower girl had grown up. Of course, only the adults got all sentimental over this, and when my niece casually mentioned that she still had the flouncy little pink and white dress from our wedding, well, I swear I felt a lump in my throat.

And it wasn't because that sweet-faced, tousle-headed little girl had turned into such a lovely young woman, no, that wasn't really it. It's because it hit me for the first time, how old I'm getting. Seriously - how did time creep up on me like that?

I tried not to think about Ciaran growing up that quickly, but then something else struck me:

It is way more freaking relaxing eating dinner with a 14 and 12 year old. They actually sit still during the meal; there's no food being thrown, or spilled all over the place. At no point did I feel little hands grabbing my legs from beneath the table.

Nor did they announce loudly during dinner that they had to go poop - RIGHT NOW! And even if they did, so what? They could get up and go themselves without anybody wiping their butts, or answering a thousand questions about where the poop goes and how toilets work in general.

And the conversation? Delightful! Imagine, a whole hour where I didn't have to raise my voice, threaten or sigh in constant exasperation. My husband was thrilled not to see me holding my head in my hands and muttering under my breath for once, I'm sure.

But, when Sunday morning rolled around, I came to another conclusion; I kind of like my sleepy four year old climbing into bed to snuggle next to me, a pink stuffed pig in one hand and a bright green birthday balloon in his other. Even if, shortly after, he kicks me in the ribs and tells me to make him some pancakes.


MamaOnDaGo said...

I always have mixed fillings about the kids getting older. Yes, it means I'm getting older, which is always a bad thing. I seem to love having them become more and more independent, but I also hate it at the same time. I'm not even close to having a nice sit down meal with the kids, but I'm trying to enjoy each and every phase. There is no turning back the hands of time.

Anonymous said...

ah, the dreaded pancake demand!

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

I know the feeling from watching not just my kids but nieces and nephews. My oldest niece is 31. It's weird.
Having dinner with a well behaved 12 and 14 year old sounds lovely.
Any chance your sister would be willing to trade kids with me?

Cheryl said...

I had a night like that recently, where I got to sit. So odd to flash-forward and imagine our kids as teenagers. I'm pretty happy to hang on to them just as they are, right now. Altho I'm so over changing diapers!

My Momma Drama said...

there's always a positive and negative side to kids as they grow up! I'm dreading my little man getting older, but know it's inevitable as I watch my 10 year old become a tween! Oh no! not good... but I do get to do some cool girly stuff with her now. and her attitude hasn't went down the crapper yet... and I can still climb in bed with her. all things I'm sure I won't be able to do in a few years! but there will be positive things then too... maybe... that's what I tell myself anyway!

KLZ said...

I'm addicted to little boy snuggles. I think I may have a problem.

The Empress said...

You're so right..that is the post I'm working on right now.

We have the same taste in men, and in regard to our children, too.

That's why I like you: you're familiar.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I'm right there with you on this. Sometimes I long for the days when the kids are older and I'm not nagging them all the dang time. But then you don't get to cuddle a 14 yo so...

Sandra said...

~laughing~ love that last statement, the one about kicking you and demanding the way Pam, get the hell of the computer and go make me some pancakes! I love pancakes!

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