Deep Voices and Loud Laughter

My younger son has left home. The exodus from the family home has begun… To mark his leaving, there was, of course, a shared dinner… And as my, ever increasing, whanau sat, sated, playing a card game, I was given to reflect on the deep voices around my table and the full bellied laughs……

There was a time in my life, when it seemed I would not be lucky enough to have kids.. the road to my first born, was long and at times seemingly hopeless… But I have been richly rewarded since his arrival… My eldest is a people magnet… there are no strangers in his life, merely friends he has yet to make. From a 3 year old with no concept of “Stranger Danger”, to the 5 year old chatting to everyone along the route of the Santa Parade, he just charms…

His school years were full of people, and when he hit high school, he started bringing more  friends home… Little did I know that amongst the group of ever changing faces, a core group of young men, affectionately known as The Gaggle (as in loud geese) would emerge and climb into my heart…

They arrived pretty much at 13, when we built the Man Cave – intended as a Parents lounge – quickly commandeered by the young teens… next to the pool, it was the base for weekend and school holiday shenanigans. The single TV morphed into 3 – one for each gaming console… Computers arrived, and my grocery bill quadrupled.. and I LOVED it!

To begin with they were shy(ish); loud, smelly with laughter that echoed up to the house. The mess they left behind was legendary, as were the pranks… But they quickly learned that Camp Mother was no fool, and could see through every implausible story to see the obvious truth…

And there were house rules – every plate had to have a decent serve of veges, before the “good stuff” was dished up; everyone had to come and see me to say hello and goodbye; no sneaking girls in – broken only once, and The Gaggle responded by narking on the Ne’er do well and telling him “She’ll take the Man Cave away from us!”; Dishes had to be washed, and the Man Cave had to be cleaned fairly regularly… The slept down there on mattresses and couches; and Sunday was often Pancakes and Bacon day…

In return, I promised them quite early on, to be the other adult in their lives.. The (almost) no questions asked grown up who would come and get them and keep them safe…

once the locusts have been

There was a no alcohol rule, until they started turning 18 – our legal drinking age.. A few tried to negotiate it, but it was non-negotiable.. and I think in those heady days of early binge drinking that NZers are famous for, they quite like having a place to come, where there was no pressure to drink…. But, they always knew, there was a bed for them, if they had been out drinking, and Sundays were often full of bleary eyed boys who’d wandered in at 4 in the morning. And there was always a ride if they got stranded – either me, or a taxi….

It sounds like Teen Lad Utopia, and it was! And MANY others have told me they were taking advantage of me, and I guess they could be seen as that… But…

I am a firm believer that Teens need as much adult input as toddlers – even more really; they all need an adult, not a parent, to listen, advice, care for them.. Be there for them.. The teen years, especially now, are not easy to negotiate, and sometimes they need a non-judgemental adult to just give them a hand…

And the interesting  thing is? If you put a teen in a car with you, they will talk…. About Stuff – big and small… Anecdotes from their day to hopes and dreams and everything in between… just magic..

party, party, party

And boy have I been rewarded… Every year my gardens are dug over, we have a “Skip Weekend” to clean out the house – boys like to throw things; toss things; climb into a skip and stomp things – it’s always well attended.. lol. Any heavy lifting jobs, moving jobs, water blasting jobs,  I always have a more than willing crew… And now, the old house  is being tidied for the sale, they’ve all come and offered to lend a hand…

I am an over feeder, and those Saturday night dinners let me try out new recipes; learn about bulk feeding and of course bake to my heart’s content. And as a cake decorator I’ve honed my skills on everything from Pokémon to Team Fortress 2 to WWE cakes (I may have preferred to occasionally do a pretty cake, but what the hell.. )

My other son and his best friend have benefited from having a slightly older peer group around them. And they all consider each other friends now, no matter the age.

My daughter has benefited from having a massive group of brothers; she is a gamer too, and can hold her own in any Pokémon conversation, and at high school was never intimidated by schoolboy behaviour – she had seen it all! And boy, any potential life partner she brings home will have to run a very long gauntlet!

Sadly, my son, who started this whole ‘Cool Gang” off was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after his teen years were blighted by mystery illnesses.. Throughout this time the core Gaggle stayed loyal to him.. turning up every weekend, keeping him company online during the week, and generally arsing around. From everything I know, teens with Chronic Fatigue can get very socially isolated, this hasn’t happened.. and as they all turn 24 now, we still see them on a regular basis. (the food bill, only slightly smaller). And I am forever grateful for their continuing  gentle care for this young man..

CAH Night – dogs included

Not only are Computer games big, in the Man Cave, but we also have a massive collection of board and Card games, and many nights have been spent perched around the table, laughing hysterically about some very inappropriate humour over a card game… or a Weekend lost to Talisman, a fantasy game play..

We’ve had school balls – one where one lad, accidentally asked 2 girls, so I had to order 1 buttonhole, 2 corsages… We entered a cross dressed team into a quiz – won not any best team name, but one of my boys won Best Dressed Woman… A couple of times they did Halloween – working out that having a younger girl with them, meant they got more candy…

And we’ve had a wedding, cake thrown in for free,  and just last year my first camp grandbaby..

And over the last 6 years I’ve invariably had at least one living with us for a few days, or a couple of years, when life means they’re between homes… A facility I will miss, in the new, smaller home – but they know there is still a couch with their name on it, for a couple of nights if required..

Besties

I’ve seen them through crises of confidence; the odd broken heart; packing to go overseas; and bringing home their new girlfriends…. I’ve taken them to accident and emergency; taken them petrol when they’ve run out… held them as they’ve cried…. Not quite bailed one out of jail – I think they’d be too scared to admit to me they’d been in that kind of trouble.. But they know that I would – it would just come with a lecture, and a hug…..

But what I remember most is the laughing… theirs and mine – these boys and their sense of humour and antics, just make me laugh! The kind of laughter that comes from deep down, uninhibited, guttural, tears down the face….  and feeds the soul.. and as their voices broke from prepubescence squeaks to adult bass , the house has rumbled with deepening voices… it’s been my backdrop for a decade.

I have been repaid in spades, for every meal, every  cake, every  ride. It has been a privilege to, in some small ways, contribute to the growing of some Awesome young men!

Whangai ka tupu

Ka puawai

That which is nurtured

Blossoms and then grows…

6 thoughts on “Deep Voices and Loud Laughter

  1. What a treasure of memories and experiences for you and them and how lucky you all are to gave been blessed with each other. I had hoped always hopped that would be my lot but sadly no.
    You are all richer for these precious years.

    Liked by 1 person

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