You Tell Me the Difference….

20 May

What’s the Difference Between a First Grade Group of Boys and an Eighth Grade Group of Boys?


In May of 2006, when Ben was in first grade, I picked him up from school with three of his friends, who were coming over to play.


I made sure they were buckled in and listened to them talk about recess, their teacher and their upcoming T-ball game. They asked me to turn the radio to the Disney Station and they sang along with the cast of High school Musical – ‘Getcha Head in the Game’ and ‘We’re All in this Together’ in the highest, cutest little voices you’ve ever heard. I sang right along with them and loved every minute of their company!


When we arrived to my house, I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, which they snacked on with milk and apple juice, then they went out to ride bikes, scooters and run around. I kept them in my sight as I cleaned up the spilt juice and cleared the table quickly. Then I went outside to supervise and play.


There were a few falls and spills, so I cleaned up the blood, dried the tears and bandaged two of the boys up real good. I broke up a fight or two along the way and talked to the boys about sharing their toys, keeping their hands to themselves and not calling one another names.


One of the boys had to go home at 5:30 and after chatting with his mom for 30 minutes or so, I went inside to make dinner for the rest of the crew.


I made Kraft macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets. Took me all of 15 minutes – 1 package of mac and cheese fed all three boys. Dessert was more cookies and cut up apples.


The boys wanted to go on the trampoline, so I left the dishes for later and went outside with them. The two remaining boys asked to spend the night, so we called their parents, who brought over pajamas, toothbrushes and clothes for the next day.


The parents, by now friends of ours, thanks to our boys, hung around for a glass of wine and a few appetizers then kissed their kids good-night.


We made a giant bed by pushing couches and ottoman’s together, got in pj’s, had a night snack of rice krispies, washed up and settled in to watch ‘Cars’ on DVD.


The boys fell asleep during the movie and their parents picked them up the next morning after a repeat performance of rice krispies.


I loved that night and so many just like it, my kid, his friends and all the fun that came with it.



It is now May of 2014, Ben is in the last few weeks of eighth grade (sigh). Two Friday’s ago, I picked him up from school after track practice with two of his friends in tow, who were coming over to ’hang’.


I asked them to buckle up and hoped to listen to them talk about girls and their upcoming journey into high school. Not to be. Ben turned on one of ‘their’ stations and the car was suddenly filled with these very, very low voices rapping fast lyrics I had to strain to understand. I tried to sing along to one the songs I actually did know, but I got the look from my son and decided to clear my throat instead.


BUT THEN – one of those songs had lyrics I clearly understood and were clearly inappropriate. They all know my rules by now. I turned off the radio and told them they had lost their radio privileges and would now have to listen 70’s on 7 or Doctor Radio. Through their laughing protest, they begged me to believe that the rapper had not actually said that bad thing I was accusing him of so I must have misunderstood. Hmmmmmm. Didn’t matter, we were home.


When we arrived to my house, they inhaled a big batch of chocolate chip cookies I made that afternoon, along with every piece of fruit and every drop of grape, apple and orange juice we had. They (really did) say thanks and then went out to play basketball. I cleaned up the slightly spilt juice and cleared the table. I also put a banana cake in the oven for later and ordered pizza for dinner. Then I ran to the store for more stuff to drink. In my absence, another boy came over and joined the kids playing basketball.


Sometime between 7:00 and 10:00, we gained two more boys (are you counting? 6 of them!). They spent the evening playing that NBA Xbox game they can’t get enough of, laughing, wrestling and generally being obnoxious, as they tend to be.


By 10:00, they were starving. Again. They had polished off the banana cake, the pizza and a boatload of Gatorade. The orange juice and grape juice were empty. I refused to make anything more for them, so they went upstairs and had cereal.


Only one had to go home – the rest were our guests for the night. I pulled out all the blankets, pillows and sleeping bags reserved for these occasions and sent them downstairs, where they fought about who was sleeping where and who was touching who and who would be the first to fall asleep and….who cares…..I tried not hear them, but I had to come out of my room a few times to tell them to watch their language and clean up after themselves (another round of cereal at 2:00 a.m.). Did I mention they played basketball and that they’re teens? They truly stunk. No showers, no brushing teeth – gross.


Anyway, the next 24 hours were much of the same – some never went home, some went home to shower and then came back, a couple more came. All day – much of the night. I told Ben only a couple could spend the second night and he didn’t argue.


Add to their consumption tally: Scrambled eggs and toast, grilled hot dogs, chicken tenders, bananas, apples and watermelon, pasta and rolls, more cereal. Three trips to the grocery store. Everyone was expected to clear their plates, but bonus points went to the ones who actually rinsed their dishes.


A splinted finger and bandaged arm. Dog mess on a few pairs of shoes – and lecturing kids on the necessity of checking for dog mess on their shoes before the come back into the house.


Additional lectures on manners, talking to girls. Asking who likes who…it makes for fun conversations.


The opportunity to compliment kids when they do and say nice things, pick up after themselves and have great manners (and they do).


Inappropriate language (corrected by me when I was within earshot – like they care) and goofy, weird jokes.


Six boys on the trampoline (please don’t judge me) and six boys threatened with their lives if they dare run over the pool cover, even if it is fun.


Washed every last blanket and pillow case.


A thoroughly crazy, exhausting weekend…


And once again, as I have for so many years, I loved both days and nights, my kid, his friends and all the fun – and chaos – that comes with it.

2 Responses to “You Tell Me the Difference….”

  1. Mary Kay Gavitt May 20, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    Humm, I think Tracey is living this same life right now but she has 2 teenagers so that doubles the amount of kids, food, and kaos in the house! She wouldn’t trade it for the world either!

  2. Caryn May 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

    In my minds eye I could visualize both scenarious and couldn’t help feeling melancholy…. How have the years gone by so quickly? Thank you for putting into words the changes and the similarities…, I feel very fortunate to be, like you, a part of both my children and their friends lives and to have had the opportunity to watch them grow and blossom ( sometimes)! As middle school graduation approaches and high school nears, I wonder what changes our kids and us, their parents face! It is my fervent hope that my children can grow up without totally growing away from me and all the wonderful parents who have played such major roles in their lives!

    My dearest Terri, as you know, chocolate chip cookies are SO MUCH more than just food! Thank you for helping to make the past 8 years a beautiful loving and learning experience! As it has been said oh so many times, “it does take a village to raise a child”!

    All My Love!

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