August 25, 2009

Summer of the hammock

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.


Songbird said...

I love your house.

Artist Friend said...

It was my intention to sleep in the hammock myself, but you moved it out before I got there. It's true, it left your living room with a lot of wasted empty space! But I slept well upstairs anyway. It was a great visit.

kathy a. said...

did someone also decorate your orange tree?

the place will be pretty quiet, after summer.

Rana said...

I love that orange tree.

I used to want to sleep in a hammock. Alas, my back doesn't like the swayback effect for periods longer than naps. :(

They should set up a hammock at school. I remember there being one at one of the campuses I was on, and there was almost always someone gently swinging in it.

Remember the one at WC?

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I have a hammock chair (the kind that hangs from one point in the ceiling) right beside my desk in my office, and so indoor hammocks aren't so much outside my paradigm. I'd probably have been helping your kids find ways to keep it in the house. (But it would probably also make your home feel like a frat house.)

landismom said...

That looks pretty fun to me. Maybe for the basement...

liz said...

You have a fun and creative household.

Kris said...

I love this story. Seriously . . . a hammock and an orange tree. I just love your open, creative family and how you portray it on your blog.

YourFireAnt said...

Which one is taking the hammock off to college with him/her?


Anonymous said...

We had a tent in our dining room that my son slept in for about a year, LOL, so I know the feeling!

BrightenedBoy said...

"When I came home from my west coast trip this June, the first thing I noticed was the hammock in our living room."

No lie, I'm seriously considering putting this quote on my Facebook wall.

This is one of my favorite posts from you. As others have said, the creativity and spontaneity of yourn family is enchanting, as is the gentle ribbing that always seems to be going on.

Yet this post made me sad as well. You'll get by, somehow. And remember: at least for the next couple of years, you'll have them all back for Christmas and summer breaks.

If that fails, I'd be happy to take up the burden of moving into your house and driving you crazy.

jo(e) said...

kathy a: That's a string of Tibetan prayer flags you see on the tree. My friend Gorgeous Eyes gave them to me.

Rana: Of course I remember the hammock at WC! Every college campus should have hammocks and rocking chairs.

Queen of West: My house feels like a frat house with or without the hammock. I do think we could have kept in the living room if it didn't take up quite so much space.

FA: The hammock technically belongs to my daughter but for some reason she's leaving it here instead of taking it to grad school with her.

BrightenedBoy: I think you'd fit right in here.

Anonymous said...

Finally, I worked out one of your cities! I'm so very pleased with myself!

I have mixed feelings about the hammock. I think it's a great idea but not sure I'd want one in my living room. Maybe it's because I don't have any long limbed teenagers to seat.

KathyR said...

FireAnt asked my question, so I'll ask another:

Is that a rock on the floor next to the amp in the top photo?

jo(e) said...

Yep, it's a rock. I'm not exactly sure why it was there. I think maybe it was being used as a doorstop.

BeachMama said...

jo(e) you are the best Mom ever. I don't think I could handle the hammock for a weekend let alone a month. I always love dropping in to see what cool things your crew is up to.