Need For Speed

Well, my house is still standing.

Last night was Punky's birthday party, and we had his school friends and their parents over to our (very small) house for cake and queso and pizza pockets. There were 13 kids all crammed into Punky's room, and the room was literally pulsating with the kinetic mayhem that resulted from sugar, adrenaline, and the delirousness that happens naturally after a week of being cooped up in school. Dana and Elisabeth were jumping up and down. Quintyn and Turner were running and sliding into the walls in their socks, taking full advantage of the hardwood floors. Christian, Dylan, and Brandon played with cars in the corner. Colette and a few others systematically popped every single balloon with tacks. It was great. After much cake and 4 dozen pizza pockets, they all went outside and rode their bikes while the parents gathered around our fire pit and attempted to police the bike carnage. Then the girls left, and the boys were invited to spend the night, 5 boys in all including Punky, because Turner decided to go home after Quintyn hit him on the head with a golf ball.

The slumber party was a milestone. It was Punky's first slumber party, and for several of these boys, the first time they've ever spent the night with someone other than Grandma. I thoroughly enjoyed being a fly on the wall. Their little conversations were priceless:

Punky: Brandon! You broke the hydraulics off of my car! Why'd you do that?
Brandon: I'm sorry... it was a accident. I didn't mean to.

They were silent for a bit while they continued crashing cars, and then:

Brandon: Punky, am I still your best friend in the world, even if I broke your car?
Punky: Of course... how could you even ask that? You're my best friend ever.

Brandon is in the second grade, and Punky is the oldest in the 3rd grade, so there is almost a 2-year age difference between them. Brandon is very small, and is very much like Piglet: meek, cute, fearful. But Punky has always been very kind to younger kids, and is not much of a rough-and-tumble boy like some of the others in his class, so I am sure this is why the two of them get on so well. We laid out pallets for them in the living room and turned off the lights and put "Robotz" in the DVD player, and Brandon snuggled up to Punky like a baby brother and went to sleep. Precious.

I think they went to sleep around 12:30, after lots of giggling and fart noises and butt jokes and other random boy stuff, and then, as if someone flipped a switch, they were all instantly awake and jumping again at 6:30 am. No coffee necessary with these boys. I got up to make my coffee when I heard them, and the moment they saw me, one of them asked, "Can we go outside and ride our bikes?" It was 6:30 am and cold outside and they hadn't been awake 5 minutes. I told them to wait until after pancakes, and at that, I think collectively they ate 6 bites and were dressed and out the door, where they played on their bikes and in the dust with cars, until their parents came at noon.

I am so happy to see Punky outside with friends. We isolated him so much last year, and while he did okay with the homeschool/new church/no friends thing, I always felt lonely for him. He is a very social person, more so than me or David...no, rather, he hasn't yet been scarred for life by the cruelty of his peers, thus causing him to retreat into the hermitlike existence we have come to seek. There is such innocence in his relating to others. It's all out there, take it or leave it, with nothing to hide and no innate need to do so. I am learning from him to come back out of my shell and to be human and to not run from human contact. Typically, I do not want to be friends; Punky craves new friends and will talk to (and accept) anyone he happens to meet. I avoid eye contact unless absolutely necessary. He will walk all the way across Walmart to say hi to a random church member he spots while I am ducking behind the canned goods hoping no one will see me. I'm such a psycho. It's not that I think myself better than anyone, or that I don't like people... I've just gotten so used to hiding, protecting, cocooning, that it's habit.

So these birthday parties are good for me, because it forces me to open my home and my heart to people I really don't know very well, and to spend time with them simply because our kids are friends, and to learn that other people aren't really so scary after all, and that making small talk isn't really that bad. It's good to watch my son with his friends, because it reminds me of my kid self before things went bad, and how playing, dreaming, exploring, and observing in the presence of friends is a really beautiful thing.


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