In a plan whipped up by my brother and me on Thursday, I got the second half of Friday off and whisked Benjamin away for his first cousin’s birthday party weekend. A six-hour drive later we arrived, and only after shaking off his nap did LC realize Ben really was right there in the same room with him — not just in an online video clip or in his dreams.
Early on, Benjamin channeled Errol Flynn as he leapt from one waterslide pool to the other. Seriously short on damsels in distress, he settled for saving his own skin.
Armed with foam swords and foam guns, the little ones created a few dust-ups, but surprisingly few conflicts arose considering they were a bunch of sea-faring scallywags. Up and down the inflatable waterslides they went, soaking up the water and the sun on an oddly cool August day. Splashdowns often were followed up with a few thwacks of the sword.
At first the huge pirate ship my sister in-law built sat largely ignored. Usurped by the more modern water toys, the galleon “floated” patiently, her spooky black sail looming over all who passed. Ultimately the kiddies climbed aboard and sailed the seven seas in search of innocent boats to plunder.
On their treasure hunt (my sister in-law’s specialty) they uncovered spoils to make every pirate proud — eye patches, spying scopes, earrings, and gold! The leader was awarded sweet bread for his boundless courage and reckless abandon. Unlike most captains, who would hoard the reward for themselves, he shared with his crew that and the candy freed by one of his bigger, stronger mates.
The only crying resulted from an accidental head bonk. And, of course, when I didn’t get a corner piece of that very cool cake.
The party was not the only thing we did. We rode bicycles, went to Chuck E. Cheese’s, and watched our sons further develop their relationship. None of their spats was ever enough for them to stop playing together, although Ben threatened it a few times.
Their occasional shouting matches were not much of a surprise coming from two five-year-olds who (1) do not like to be told what to do, and (2) sometimes tend to be bossy. Nevertheless, except for once or twice, they always worked it out without our intervention.
Benjamin tends to be less touchy-feely than his cousin. LC has a hard time coming to grips with the rather boisterous response he gets when hugging Ben outside a, “Hello,” “Goodnight,” or “Goodbye.” He started catching on pretty well this time. There also might have been a tiny bit of a teasing factor at work; the flashbacks to their daddies’ childhoods never seem to stop. For me, anyway. But I’m working through it. Hold me.
Both boys lit up when my parents arrived. I wanted for only two things that weekend: that Shannon could have been there, and that Benjamin could see my folks more often. They are big things, yes, but I still managed to have a great time.
Amid all the family action, we watched Michael Phelps set a new world record in the 400m individual medley. For our part, my brother and I showed our competitive spirit by smoking a few aliens in Resistance: Fall of Man, on his Playstation 3.