September 09, 2005

Playing in the Dark

My entire house is as dark as the inside of a cave far below the earth.

That's right. It's Friday night, and the kids are playing Monster. They've tacked up blankets over every window and duct taped anything that glows. I told them I'd play the second round but for now I have retreated to my office, the one room that is off limits, where the only light I have on is the computer screen. My door is closed, with a towel stuffed under it so that even the light from the computer cannot creep into the playing area.

We've got all boys tonight. Daughter is at college, and Blonde Niece went to the mall. Spouse slipped away to go to the movies with a friend, leaving me to mind the cloud of testosterone. It's the first Monster game of the new school year, and it was a shock to me, as Boy in Black's friends arrived, to realize that these kids I have known for years are all seniors now, with just one more year before they graduate.

For the most part, Boy in Black's friends are like him: smart and serious. They are young men who talk openly about racism and sexism, who are able to rant about the atrocities of the Bush administration in a pretty articulate way. They talk seriously about the possibility of a draft -- they all turn eighteen this year -- and their worries about the future.

They are also funny. The same brightness that puts these high school kids into college courses is used to come up with ways to tease each other and joke about everything imaginable. They insult each other constantly, and the comebacks are quick.

They are young men now, old enough to take a serious look at the state our country is in, and worry about what that means for them. But they are also able to play. While waiting for friends to arrive, they had a battle in the living room with a light sabers, most of them willing to take a dramatic fall to the carpet when With-a-Why flashed his bright red saber.

Right now, I can hear them chasing each other through the house, tripping over stuff in the absolute darkness. I can hear laughter and screaming, all kinds of exclamations as the monster finds his prey. With-a-Why is the hardest to find, because he is so small, and my three boys have a huge advantage in the darkness: they live here and can walk around without seeing.

I love the energy of teenage boys, the older ones including the younger ones in their game, all of them willing to talk seriously to me, all of them willing to be silly and playful. As this round of Monster ends, I am turning off my computer to go join the group and play the next round. I've spent too much time this week reading news that is sad and frightening. I want to play.

16 comments:

Lisa V said...

A bunch of women in my family used to go away for the weekend every January. We would do a version of the same game. However we drank alot of tequila doing it. We would play They Might Be Giants really loudly, to muffle foot steps and add to the element of surprise. We had rubber band guns that we would shoot each other with. I can't tell you how good I got at loading 10 rubber bands on a single gun by feel. Then we had kids. We wouldn't let them play with any kind of toy gun, so we quit playing.

Miranda said...

I love the way you write so lovingly about your family. Most parents I know would never let a bunch of young men run around the house like that on a Friday night and I love reading about how you not only allow it, but you encourage it. Your children and their friends are lucky to have someone like you in their lives.

ccw said...

This is so touching. I loved reading about this game. Your families behavior and the fact that friends want to come over on a Friday night is such a testament to your wonderful parenting. You are such a fun mom. I doubt there are many parents who would allow such fun stuff.

Suzanne said...

You are a far cooler mom than I am, I fear. In theory I would love to be the kind of mom who encourages such free-spiritedness and independence, but in reality I have a feeling I'd be too reserved and rule-abiding.

But there's plenty of time yet, so I think I'll be taking notes from you as I go along...

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

You are a great writer, a great Mom, and a person to emulate!!! I love your posts and your games and thoughtfulness! YAY! Mary :-)

frog said...

I've never played Monster, but I'd love to read a post that describes the game.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I remember still being able to play like a child at age 18. I don't think I can do that anymore. When I play with my children, I'm just playing at playing, if that makes any sense. I can't play with the total commitment that Caroline has. Maybe when she's older and the gamesare more complicated.

jo(e) said...

Frog: If you click on the link, it will take you to the post that describes the game. It's basically just an indoor version of hide-and-seek.

Rob: I think when my kids were little and I played games with them, I was very conscious of being the parent. But now that they are older, I can drop the parenting part and totally lose myself in the game.

(I would like to brag here that Boy in Black did not find my hiding place last night. I stood on the kitchen counter, my back to the cupboards, amidst the pile of junk food some of the kids had brought. In the darkness, Boy in Black just kept feeling crinkly bags of chips and did not know I was there. When he went upstairs to search the bedrooms, I was able to sneak off the counter and free all the captured kids on the couch.)

bitchphd said...

Your boys are amazing. Good job, mama.

Sue said...

how wonderful!!!

You are such a great mom!

Rana said...

Hah! What an excellent hiding place!

(Did you reveal your secret later?)

jo(e) said...

Rana: Well, I ended up making a lot of noise as I leaped off the counter, scattering bags of chips as I went, and then I crashed into a kitchen chair and tripped over an amp on my way to the couch. (It was absolutely dark, no light at all, I will remind you.) So everyone who was on the couch knew then where I had been hiding. But Boy in Black, who was upstairs, still does not know ....

peripateticpolarbear said...

And I hope it stays that way! a mother needs some secrets.

Yankee T said...

I want to be more like you.

Pink Cupcake said...

I want to play too! :) I think it's great that you are so relaxed...When I was younger, my Mum (and, I imagine, many others) would have been freaking out about me duct-taping stuff and worrying that we'd break things in the dark. I love that you understand how good it is for your sons and their friends to have this kind of fun, and that you want to join in too. I'm sure that all of this definitely plays a large part in making your children the wonderful people they undoubtedly are. Go you, Jo(e)!

Running2Ks said...

You have a good hope for the future--these kids sound like they are headed in the right direction.