Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Birthday Milestone

This was written in September, 2015

As I write this, Sean is engaged in a major social milestone.

It's his birthday party, although his birthday was a couple of weeks ago. He wanted an Airsoft party, and we've been planning it for quite a while. We decided to make it an optional campout. Being 13 is a big deal, and to me it should come with some big kid stuff. The start time was 4 p.m., because he wanted part of the Airsoft party to be a night game. We took a break for dinner, steaks and hot dogs on the grill, a pizza, veggie tray, and potato salad. Then cake. And as soon as the food settled, they were back out for more Airsoft game.

Five of the six boys stayed to camp in tents. All of the boys who stayed, as well as Sean, have been to camp at Camp Seymour for various lengths of time. But camping in our back yard, in tents, with as much hands-off adult supervision as we feel is safe is different than being at camp with a whole bunch of kids with planned activities. This has been mostly a free for all. Chuck did some herding to get them going on their games, and at the end of the games gave a time limit, and then we confiscated the weapons.

We were liberal with the time limit. At 10 p.m. the games ended and all weapons were brought into the house.

They are laughing, talking loudly, being boys. It's late, and I'd like to go to sleep sometime tonight, but I like that he is experiencing something of a milestone.

My brother and I grew up this way. It wasn't anything planned by our parents. We lived in a neighborhood where most of the homes sat on 1/4 to 1/2 acre, and all of the kids played together. We reached milestones together without realizing it, and it was natural for us to camp out, stay up all hours of the night in the summertime, walk together to the store for a pop and a candy bar, and have disagreements and learn how to negotiate and work it out. We had strict boundaries for behavior and responsibilities, but we were free to be kids.

Parents are different now. A lot of parents won't allow their boys to play with Airsoft guns, or spend the night outside. I get it. I understand their worries.
But these kids are having fun. And I want my son to know what it feels like to sleep out there surrounded by friends, talking nonsense boy stuff, building memories that he will treasure for a lifetime.

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