Just Another Child Friendly Event

On Saturday, we were invited to a spontaneous child friendly barbecue located on a gorgeous property close to where we live. Our hosts had built a beautiful house almost from scratch. The person who had lived there before them had been an alcoholic man who would drink heavy liquor in the field and then run over his bottle with the tractor to crush his evidence. Needless to say, the house had been a dump, but now it was something exquisite.

My boyfriend and I had a great time meeting new people and enjoying our crispy fake vegetarian meat that we brought.  There were plenty of kids frolicking around. Given that it was a day after Halloween, they were still coming down from the high of dressing up and collecting their wares. One of the girls was dressed as Frodo from Lord of the Rings and her cape flowed around her. She said to me matter-of-factly that she was able to communicate with animals and knew what they were saying. She held a frosted cookie in her hand.

“What did the dog and cat just tell you?” I asked.

“They said that they want a piece of my cookie,” she said.

“Of course,” I said, impressed with her skills.

The kids then took turns jumping from haystack to haystack, increasing their speed and agility with every Olympic thrust forward. They were having a blast and it was fun watching them. I hadn’t been around kids for a while and I always marvel how well they can entertain themselves.

And then the fun really started happening.

First, was there was the fire pit. I was sitting on one of the haystacks observing the ensuing fascination that they seemed to have with the flames. A girl and boy poked at the growing bonfire with their long sticks and then they raised the glowing embers in the air like spears. They were warriors.  All I could think about was the endless amounts of dried grass on the ground and how easily we could start a rampant wildfire.

Next, one of the two year olds took his plastic wheelbarrow and dumped a whole bunch of prickly chestnut balls (what else do you call them?) into the raging fire, nearly melting the plastic cart with his push. Some of the parents were sort of keeping an eye on everyone, but at times, there was just too much going on.

All at once.

At one point in the evening when the sun was down and the barbecue still cooking the slabs of meat, all the kids came piled around one of the guests who whipped out his iPad.  They were mesmerized by whatever application or game he displayed on that quiet glowing screen.

Later, we met a woman in her early forties who had already raised two kids who were seventeen and twenty-two.  She happened to fall for a man who had a two year old.

“Just my luck,” she said.  Another round of changing diapers, cuddling and tantrums.  She was done with that shit.

Late in the evening we wrapped ourselves in sweatshirts as we sit around the bonfire.  The haystacks, I notice are slightly wet and I changed positions to let my bum dry.  The two year old shrieked through tears that he wants to go home.  He is squirmed out of his father’s arms.  I am amazed at the decibel levels that can come out of that kid.

Suddenly, his dad pulled out his iPhone and turns on a simple spaceship game.  The kid settled his eyes on the screen and followed the ship with his tiny finger.  Thank God for smartphones.  What did parents do before those little inventions?

“I think that you have a lot of posts to write about here,” the German said to me.

We laughed before driving back to our childfree house.

Photo Credit: Dani Vasquez via Flickr

Jula Pereira

Jula Pereira

I am a freelance writer living the good life in beautiful Sonoma County with my partner and our dog Timmy. Please say hello on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook.

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