Last weekend With-a-Why, my youngest child, turned eighteen. And Skater Boy, who has been an extra in our household since before kindergarten, turned twenty-one.
Such milestone birthdays meant that our house was filled with young people and extras all weekend. The gang spent Saturday doing crazy stunts outside in an old wheelchair that we found when we cleaned the garage. By evening, more extras had arrived to join the party. Philosophical Boy, on midterm break, showed up unexpectedly. Blonde Niece arrived with her boyfriend. First Extra brought lottery tickets, the same gift he gave to Boy-in-Black and Shaggy Hair Boy when they turned eighteen. It’s a tradition.
Boy-in-Black came up with a new way of gathering everyone for the candle ceremony. He pulled the living furniture into a circle and began batting a ball back and forth. No one could resist the “keep the ball in the air” game. The circle quickly expanded to a gang of fourteen young people leaping up, making dramatic dives, and knocking into each other to swat at the ball. On several occasions, the entire loveseat went tumbling over. You might say that we’re a little competitive.
By the time the room had gotten dim enough to light candles, everyone was hot and sweaty from competing over a little foam ball. I wondered whether Shy Smile, With-a-Why’s girlfriend, would find our noisy, crowded household a bit overwhelming, but she seemed to be handling the chaos just fine. It’s easy to find nice things to say about With-a-Why and Skater Boy, but of course as we went around the circle, there were also teasing insults and jokes. That’s the tradition.