Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just another suburban legend

The wilds of Maine are filled with roaming gangs of feral children. And no amount of logic nor arguing will tame them.

Or so it would seem as we, members of the Clan of Aging Hipsters, filled to the brim with barbecue, gather around the backyard fire pit clutching our bottles of pale ale. We chat idly about the salad days as we watch our progeny organize their rebellion near a giant cedar play set, which is festively draped in Christmas lights.

We are holding court and they are playing the sabatours.

No matter how many times we tell them not to trample flowers, aim foam-blunted projectiles at body parts or tear into delicate tent zippers, they simply nod their heads and continue onward.

Their giant shadows dancing raucously under the rippling dapples of green and red light as their tiny bodies act out all manner of imagined adventures.

Soft swords slash the air and foam bullets ricochet off the tent flies landing smack dab in the center of half-eaten delicacies piled on paper plates.

A three-year-old, the smallest active member of the battalion, is the only one to hit vital targets: My husband's cranium, my cleavage and her own father's groin region. She wasn't even aiming.

There were great roars of laughter and eardrum-piercing squeals of delight as the children darted animately about the yard making memories. We stared unblinkingly into the flickering firelight silently reliving ours.

I listen as Ittybit barks orders to the ranks, some of whom smirk at the novelty of a pint-sized general sounding the battle cry, but they carry out her requests without question or hesitation. Everyone is having fun.

As night falls, so do the children. Their bodies can't keep up with their over-stimulated minds. They trip over tent flies and fall to the grass. Some cry. Others complain. Everyone is losing the plot. Someone herds them inside and turns on a television. An electronic narcotic for all ages.

The air was chill and the bugs were biting. A soft couch and a flashing screen of classic cartoons seemed the perfect end to a perfect day.

We were a little jealous. We mused about how everything seemed easier when we thought our lives would be an adventure ... and that any problems we encountered could be eradicated with a shot of (insert the name of vexing problem here) spray from Batman's utility belt.

For a moment around that fire we were all kids again, trading lines of remembered script as if we were still sitting in the living rooms of our childhood soaking up the latest Johnny Quest, just the the way our kids soak up Sponge Bob.

We peered past the flames to the picture window as someone threw more wood onto the fire. "Holy crow, they're watching Thunder Cats in there," said one of the dads wistfully. "We're all out here talking about cartoons and they're in there watching them."

It occurred to me that the first crack in the generation gap has formed as we continue to compare and contrast the virtues of our cartoons against the vices of theirs.

"Yeah ... but Sponge Bob has nothing on Thunder Cats. They don't make shows like ours anymore. You know that 'Finneas and Ferb' show? I don't get that at all. The sister is always trying to stick it to her brothers but her parents never see what's happening. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. I don't get that."

Of course, once you have had that conversation with your kids you might as well hang up your clicker and your righteous indignation for good.

"Yeah ... Well, how about that Coyote ... always missing the Roadrunner ... Lather, Rinse, Repeat?"


As the flickering lights start to fade and the party wanes, a cold gust of air reminds me that summer is also coming to a close ... as are the days in which we rule the kingdom.

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