Raphael went to a sleep-over birthday party this weekend. When we dropped him off, the house was fairly vibrating with the activity therin. It was like a home-made science experiment showing molecular activity, where the eight year olds were molecules, the party was heat, and I was recoiling from the resulting steam. Ooookay, baby boy, enjoy your vapor state, don't mind me racing out the door!
"You're welcome to stay, if you want..." the dad called after Clay and me as we beat a hasty retreat down the sidewalk. We laughed - um, I mean SMILED WARMLY, and told him we couldn't, unfortunately, and then we ran for it.
The next morning I showed up to retrieve Raphael. The scene was markedly subdued compared to the night before. I gathered my own tired-eyed little boy from out of the crowd, tossed him and his sleeping bag in the van, and we pointed our noses toward home.
The whole drive there, I swear he didn't stop talking for a second. The child seems to have perfected some sort of circular breathing technique to facilitate constant chatter, and he told and told and told me about his evening. It had been SO MUCH FUN. There were WASPS in the back yard, and they THREW THINGS AT THEM and then the dad came out and SQUIRTED THEM WITH POISON - the wasps, not the boys, and they SLEPT IN THE BACK YARD, the boys, not the wasps, and there were mattresses out there, but he didn't jump on the air mattresses, because he thought they might pop, but they all jumped on the other ones, the spring ones, and he DID FLIPS and they stayed up until MIDNIGHT and they were all telling WEIRD DREAMS and then they woke up at 6:30 and ATE WAFFLES.
It was a joy to behold, his rapture at the evening of wasps and other delights. But the very best part was when we turned onto our own street, and he looked around and drew a deep breath.
"Oh," he sighed, "when you've been away from your very own home for a while, seeing it again just feels good on your eyes."
And that, we agreed, as I treated my own eyes to the sight of him, was the best part of the whole party.