The Middle-Aged Follies

Last weekend, we did a Kid Swap with our friends Kristin and Brian. They took Zeca (age 4) to Wisconsin with them and we kept their son, Augie (age 8). The weather here was beautiful so we went on a bike ride with the boys and then decided to have an impromptu backyard BBQ. We invited our friends Raquel and Susan over along with their daughter Luca and sat around eating, drinking and being merry. After the children roasted their peeps (yes, we still have peeps), they ran wild while the adults sat by the fire and had a bit o' the gin. The kids got louder and louder and we turned to find them playing a game they had invented. In the game, each person had to run up the slide and make it all the way to the top of the play structure without using his or her hands. The following is a picture of a play structure similar to ours that I found on the internet. Thankfully, ours didn't come with all those children, especially since they look like Stepford children and I'm sure those suckers feed on the blood of unsuspecting parents.  I present Handy Dandy Diagram 1: Diagram 1








All three of the kids managed to accomplish the task with little difficulty. Sure, there was an occasional misstep but, overall, they made it look so easy. Better still - they made it look fun! I now present Handy Dandy Diagram 2:

Diagram 2

Diagram 2






I put down my drink and said cheerfully, "I'm going to give it a try!" Luisa gave me a look that said, "Remember that day your mom got liquored up and went water skiing and had that terrible fall and you and your stepfather both jumped out of the boat to save her, leaving the boat completely unattended, and then she spent the rest of the night in the ER? I don't want to have our own version of that day." Raquel laughed in a way that said, "Go ahead and make a fool of yourself - I'm happy to sit back and watch!" Susan sat quietly, sending me good vibes and love. I took off my glasses, walked towards the kids and announced, "I want a turn!" They laughed at me and told me to go to the back of the line. I waited patiently until the moment arrived. Then, as I stood there staring at the narrow opening of the slide, I realized that I am 40...I don't see that well without my glasses anymore...I could run up the slide, topple over the side and break a hip or, worse than that, I could miss the slide altogether. But then, the immortal words of Helen Reddy began to ring in my ears:

Oh yes, I am wise But it's wisdom born of pain Yes, I've paid the price But look how much I've gained If I have to , I can do anything I am strong I am invincible I am woman

I started running and the years melted away as my feet hit the slide and I ran up, up - and then came sliding down. I blame the Keens - hiking shoes, my ass. Those suckers are slick. I tried twice more but never quite made it to the top without using my hands. Of course, then all the adults had to give it a try. Well, everyone but Susan. Raquel was up next and I must admit that I was rooting against her because of all the mocking. She took off running and, right before she got to the slide, she pulled a quad muscle. Yes, my friends, karma is a beautiful thing! She was unable to try again. Luisa was next and, not surprisingly, she made it up on the first try...and the second...and the third. We then left the game to the kids and returned to our fireside seats, thankful that no one had broken any bones. I guess next time we invite friends over for a backyard BBQ we'll have to tell them to BYOB - Bring Your Own BenGay.