In an old farmhouse with slanted floors, low ceilings, ancient brick mantels and secret stairs, five thirty-somethings gathered in a kitchen endearingly piled with it’s inhabitants own farm grown vegetables, the sweetest fall carrots you ever tasted and brie baked with lovingly cared for herbs and garlic. We all brought something to share: beer and “special drink” for the kids, cupcakes and pie, smiles and warmth, comfort and friendship, support and nourishment for health and heart. We talked about why the carrots were so sweet, laughed about parent-teacher conferences and Daddy length legs in child sized chairs, reminisced about 90’s hip hop and the MTV our kids would never know, shared every day struggles with our routines or lack there of, and held space for whatever words were laying just under the surface.
Five children ages 6 and under raced around the house in circles and figure eights, running, leaping, imagining, pretending, sliding, falling, shouting, sometimes crying, and most importantly laughing. We weren’t sure what they were doing most of the time, but caught a phrase here and there as they all came barreling into a room, practically falling on top of each other in a giant, giggling pig pile. “Can I have one more lollipop, pleeeeeease?” “She told me the castle was locked and there was a dragon on top but now I can’t find the flaming darts!” “Where is my big, big, big green thing?” “Don’t let the baby get the magic sword! It’s dangerous!” “Can we go back outside to the fire in the pitch, black darkness? We know the way!” “Sissy is being too spooooooooooky!” “Can we have pie now?” “We are the greatest, bravest explorers.”
We all gathered around one table just barely big enough for the ten of us to fit our plates, an extra leaf built in by a grandparent. “Should we do a separate kids table?” but we already knew the answer to that. “We need another leaf,” said our host and hearts were bulging and threatening to crack from so much love and friendship, like the table dipping at the ends with too many plates. The kids told one nonsensical knock, knock joke after another in their most “outside” of voices and everyone laughed from their bellies, and no one told them to quiet down or sit still. “It looks like you’ve lived here for 10 years! I can’t believe you just moved in,” I marveled. But my heart was saying, “I feel like I’ve known you for a thousand years! I can’t believe I haven’t known you at least all my life.”
Every adult cleared the table, wiped a child’s face, rebuilt a sabotaged fort, responded to a cry, offered a piggy back, a solution/distraction, or a hug as needed. Every child ate too much sugar and not enough dinner, felt the love of every grown-up in the house, worked through a disagreement with a friend mostly without intervention, and rooted the seeds of their friendships a little deeper in their hearts. Some even made marriage proposals in the pure way only 6 year olds can.
I hope this is what they remember. I hope this is where they know they will always belong, no matter what rages on around them. Here in the homes, hearts and arms of their people.