My son is 10 years old! It’s tough really to get my head around that fact. I can only imagine what it is like for my parents to think about each year one of their aging children reaches another annual milestone.
9 was a pretty good year. Ethan’s shown a lot of improvement in school, thanks to his mother’s constant prodding and encouragement, he’s begun to really shine at the piano, and is starting to show real promise at soccer. I’m not saying that he’s looking like he may be Pele one day, but considering our dismay at his total lack of competitiveness or energy in previous years, this year has been one of wonder! It’s hard not to have high, unreasonable expectations of your kids. Lord knows how badly we’ve screwed him up already. Well, I suppose we get pretty good contact with him for the next 8 years or so (man, is it that few?!?!!), hopefully we don’t mess it up even worse than we have…
So this year we decided to allow Ethan to have a friend party with all the boys from school. Since Ethan’s class is pretty small, it is easy, or rather required to invite all of the boys in his class. Luckily, all 6 (including Ethan himself) were able to attend! I picked the boys up at school at 3:30 and traveled with them into Waukesha for a couple of hours of lasertag. I’m not sure when the last time any of you has spent a considerable amount of time with a carload of 10 year olds, but it really opens your eyes about all the stuff they already know. Their conversations ranged from cars to jokes (“that’s what she said” - they are getting better with that one - probably 70% of the references would work) to music (ACDC is the best, Mr. Grady) to movies. It ranged quite a lot. Even though the topic was anything but constant, one thing that did not stop was the chatter! They can talk A LOT! It was kind of nice to see that they are still, for good or for bad, very much influenced by their families. All of them liked the same cars their dad’s liked, the same music their mom’s liked, and had the same opinions about the world as their parents. I’m guessing that’s going to change sometime soon, but for now, it seems we still have influence…
Lasertag was pretty enjoyable. Jenny and Quin met us there for the first game. Jenny quickly purchased $40 in game tokens for the arcade games which the boys burned through in about 15 minutes. Luckily they were completely loaded down in prize tickets which they each exchanged for handfuls of candy and some alien in a test-tube toy. Candy… Good idea!!! After the second game of lasertag was done and they had burned through all of my cash for game tokens, I tried to buy them all a slushie at the snack counter. Unfortunately the slushie machines were on the fritz, so I said, “just get a soda”. What do you suppose they all ordered? “Mountain dew”, “Code Red”, one of them actual asked me if they could get a Monster Energy Drink… I was quickly losing control!!
After the last game of lasertag I loaded the gang up into the van to leave. That’s when one of the boys flipped off a passerby… Oh boy, now I’m going to get beat up! The kids explained to me that this group of 11 year olds was really giving them trouble in the arena and demanding their respect, so they really had no choice but to flip them off!!!
The ride to our house was somewhat quiet. Most of the boys settled in to watch Ironman 2 which I had playing on the van DVD player. When we got to our house, the kids ran in and bee lined up to Ethan’s room, right past a smiling and anxious Quin. By the time I got into the house, Quin was in tears! He had been patiently waiting for the boys to come home and play with him, but none of them even said hi!!! Luckily after a couple of minutes they came back down and started interacting with Quin as well. He couldn’t have been happier! He came up to me and said, “daddy, he was nice to me!”
The rest of the night went about as expected. We had pizza - each of the kids ate about 1⁄2 a piece. I made root beer by special request - unfortunately it didn’t fizz up very well, so it wasn’t all that popular. That was OK, because one of the boys found our stash of Mountain Dew in the basement pantry!!! Many a Nerf Gun war was had, both inside and out. Quin and I actually played with them for awhile. During one game, Quin cautioned us to “keep our eyes peeled.” I’m guessing that’s a phrase he picked up from the older boys!
As I dropped each of them off for the night after insisting that we were NOT going to be entertaining all of them for a sleepover (that didn’t go over well - too much caffeine), all of the boys clamored out of the van at each stop, wanting to see each others houses. It was like herding cats to get them back into the van to make the next stop in a reasonable timeframe. I’m pretty sure it took an hour and half to deliver each of them home!!!
All in all it was a nice party. It’s always good to interact with a group of kids so you realize that yours isn’t the only weird one - they’re all weird!!! I’m happy that it is almost a full year until we will have another one, though! I suppose next year we’ll be doing it for Quin, too!!!