This year, our Thanksgiving celebration was with my family. We had our normally large outdoor meal with most of my extended relatives. So I am talking about thirty adults and around forty children. In a phrase, it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.
And speaking of barrels and monkeys…
A bunch of the children at some point discovered some old plastic drums that had been used to hold feed for the animals. Before we knew it, children were pushing drums around the field and up the embankment, many of those drums occupied by a child. As I looked on, I remembered doing that sort of thing when I was young.
They rolled one another around in an organized sort of chaos. Barrels were sent rolling away, most filled with a child. And of all those freely rolling barrels, I only witness one collide with another. Of course, #5 just happened to be in one, the one that now had its opening obstructed. It only took him milliseconds before he began shouting, “Hey! Let me out! Hey!”
When he did get out, he rounded on the cousin with all the good humor of a badger caught on a bear-trap. By luck, or a miracle, the barrels bumps each other right next to where I was sitting. So, when #5’s temper took on high pressure, I was right there to stop him. I told him to keep his temper in check. If he was going to play this game, he had to expect that sort of thing to happen.
He calmed down, and then pushed his barrel back up the slope for another round.
It was not very long after that when #3 came limping over to Wife and me. She had scraped her ankle on a roll. Our response was a normally expected marital contradiction. I said something like, “What did you expect? Now go back and play.” Wife’s was, “Then stop doing that.”
We are usually a united front, especially when it comes to discipline. But in this case, I think it was okay to disagree. So, the child limped away with the overwhelming weight on her shoulders to have to make her own decision.
The injuries grew as evening drew closer. My children, my cousins, and my cousins’ children all worked together, pushing barrels up the slope, and pushing each other around. Children have a real talent to hurt themselves. When they work together, that talent seems to multiply by the number of children, and then by ten. #7 bumped his head. #4 bruised her tale-bone. #6 scraped his forearm.
As adults, sometimes Wife and I wonder why they keep playing. But then we remember when we were that age.
The injuries might multiply by the number of children, and then by ten… but the fun climbs up even higher than the early evening stars. And from that high up, nothing can stop their fun, not even a few scrapes and bruises.