I think I've mentioned it before, our "playgroup" on Friday nights. Well, we hosted it last night. The Lad was so excited because he would be able to share all his new toys with his friends, most of which is military in genre. He's six now, and we are at war. Time to start basic training.
We snacked and drank, as usual (no dinner, though - we forgot). The kids made a right bloody mess of the toys, as usual. But fun was had by all so we didn't care... much. One of our party was on a diet, of all things, so he'd been at the gym and came in late and barely ate anything and had one, count 'em, one beer. He's my drinkin' buddy, so I'm disappointed to say the least. As retribution I'm angling to have him drive us designatedly tonight, though the prospects of that look grim.
We all ended up in the sitting room off the kitchen. Now, in most of these houses around here it's the "family room," (translate: there is one focal point which is the tv). However, we prefer to watch tv in the theater, so there is no tv in that room. Kids were in and out (they were mostly in the theater or upstairs with the toys). Usually we hang in the kitchen, but the fire was on, so the OTHER girls all had to sit on the hearth by the fire. We had the furnace set at a balmy 70 degrees, but these girls are always cold. (Editor's note: The author wished to administer some advice: "Here's a fucking clue: it's fucking wintertime so put on a fucking sweater. Sheesh." But the editorial board thought offence might be taken and the statement is still under review for inclusion in this post.)
Granted, this big old house is drafty, but the whiskey always warms me right up. Anyway, we were chatting; baring a breast or two; yes, we agreed with ourselves that Cryptic is cute (for one so young), and there was otherwise much poking of fun at each other. Anyway, shit was in typically constant fling-state; the husbands bitch goodnaturedly about the wives and the wives bitch not-so-goodnaturedly about the husbands... You know, the usual.
Now to one side of this room is a long catwalk which overlooks the foyer and the sitting room. The kids love to play up there; they run rescue ops of toys between the floors, shout to each other, throw stuff over onto us, and otherwise be obnoxious and kid-like. But last night, maybe because we were in their space, the kids were particularly sweet-acting and quiet in their play.
They like to come to Friday night playgroup (none of them have caught on yet that it's not actually for them) and we've been getting together for so long that the kids treat all the parents more as a unit. It doesn't happen so much any more, but when they were younger you'd just as likely have someone else's wee one standing between your knees waiting on you to open a juice box, or sitting on your lap crying when they'd gotten hurt. Little Monkeylass came in and climbed all over PHF repeatedly (she missed him, he'd been gone) and the other kids would wander in, indiscriminatley distibute a hug or monkey-climb or two, and wander back out again. Though they were active, the obnoxiousness was held to a mininum, and when PHF and I finally retired for the evening, I was congratulating ourselves on having a successful, relatively mess-free evening (one glass of water and one box of juice spilled total. Pretty good, considering). "And they played so quietly," I was saying. "They were just so sweet..."
We stopped at the top of the stairs and stared.
The whole of the Lad's fleet was assembled up on the catwalk; I'd guess some thirty vehicles - armored personel carriers, Bradley fighting vehicles, armored trucks, tanks, ships, ATVs armed with M60s, motorcycles with bolted-on rifles, jets readying for take-off... all led by the Pirate Ship proudly flying the Jolly Roger, men high in the rigging for lookout ("Enemy ship, ho!"). Approximately 100 troops had been gathered for the assault, and all were in position, lurking with military precision in the darkness above, silently waiting for the order to attack.
The nose of every weapon was pointed straight at the fireplace, where us, the little darlings' parents, had been gathered all night.