Ah, ten. Remember ten?
I remember dropping a pitcher of V8 on the yellow linoleum and watching the bloodlike pool overtake the kitchen. I remember sleeping over at my best friend's house when Syrup, her golden retriever, lept on the bed and took a leisurely stroll across my face. And I remember Sunday nights, sitting at the dinner table, watching the sun go down and feeling inexplicably sad.
As a kid, I didn't much feel in control of my environment, didn't quite realize I was master of my domain.
So as a parent, it's fun to watch my children play, to get that different perspective. I sit on a chair in the front yard, hiding behind my open newspaper, and spy on the boys as they interact with each other, and with their friends. They make up all kinds of games, these kids, constructing elaborate hierarchies, modifying rules until everyone agrees. I love observing their social dynamic, because when I was their age, I had no perspective, and therefore couldn't appreciate my world from an outsider's point of view.
My boys have penta-playdates. It's a term they coined when they invite over two boys from one family and a third from another -- five boys in the house at once. They run around like crazy, zipping this way and that, dashing across the yard, chasing each other like hyped-up, caffeinated lemurs.
The only thing that slows them down is cake. Call "Cake!" and everyone freezes. They come to the table, pull out chairs, and display good manners, at least for the first minute or two. Then they blow bubbles in their milk and crack each other up about whatever and everything and nothing, until all five of them double over with shoulder-heaving laughter, five boy-chins smeared with frosting.
I'm no longer ten, and I've definitely learned a lot in the intervening years, but one thing I've learned above all else is this: on any day, on any night, Sunday or otherwise, it's nearly impossible to be sad in the presence of cake.