August 25, 2009
Summer of the hammock
When I came home from my west coast trip this June, the first thing I noticed was the hammock in our living room.
It would be hard NOT to notice the hammock. One end touched the drum set on the west wall, and the other end reached over the couch on the east wall. The sides of the hammock brushed so close to the piano that I couldn’t walk through the room.
The kids thought that having a hammock jammed right in the middle of the living room was a fine arrangement. Always, one or two or even three of them would be lounging on the hammock, balanced precariously beneath the orange tree. I’d come home in the afternoon and find Quick or Skater Boy just chilling in the hammock. Every morning, I’d find Shaggy Hair Boy or Boy in Black asleep in the hammock. When I’d talk about moving the hammock outside where it belonged, the kids acted like I was proposing something ridiculous.
“What? The hammock adds MORE seating space to the living room.”
“It was just wasted space anyhow. No one uses the space in the middle of a room.”
"Move it outside? No one wants to sit outside when everyone's in here."
“It’s raining. It’ll get wet.”
One day, I got fed up with how messy the living room was, and I moved the hammock outside. It was With-a-Why’s summer chore to clean the living room, and I figured that he could vacuum more thoroughly without that awkward contraption in the middle of the room. Besides, I told myself, a hammock really does belong outside.
Late that night, Quick began cleaning the living room – and rearranging the furniture to make room for the hammock. I couldn’t stop him; Quick is such a nice guy that is impossible to say no to him. Besides, it’s my policy never to stop a teenager who is cleaning my house. He was even vacuuming the hard-to-reach places that With-a-Why routinely ignored.
Sometime after midnight, the kids carried the hammock back in.
They explained to me the next morning that my logic was faulty. The reason the living room was such a mess had nothing to do with the hammock, and everything to do with With-a-Why being the baby of the family. Sadly, this was probably true.
The kids figured out that they could keep the hammock in the living room by doing a bunch of cleaning to appease me whenever I started getting frustrated with the lack of space. So the hammock stayed in the house for the month of July. I didn’t move it out again until August when it was time to start looking ahead to fall.
This week my household is dispersing, with three of my kids and most of my extra kids heading off to college and grad school. Even as I write this, Blonde Niece is on her way to City Famous for Baked Beans and Tea Parties. I’ll miss always having a gang of young people in my house – some lounging on the hammock, a bunch crowded onto the couch, some throwing discs across the room, some playing poker at the table, some at the stove making strange, huge pancakes. I’m going to miss the chatter, the jokes, and the energy. I might even miss the hammock.
That's Shaggy Hair Boy in the top photo, and Boy in Black in the bottom one.
Posted by jo(e)