Wednesday, September 26, 2007

mi casa es su casa

Ever since I became a mom, I've wanted to have the kind of house where the door is always open and the neighborhood kids freely and happily come and go. Partly this wish springs from an attempt to undo the past; I've got many painful memories related to my mother's inability to welcome people warmly into our home. When she put out a plate of food for my friends, it was never enough, and never interesting or fun. (At my friend Denise Rosenzweig's house, by contrast, there was Velveeta cheese and all kinds of Entenmann's products, which you got to eat while watching TV. Boy, did I love going over there.) Everything in our house was so clean and orderly it scared them; there was no precedent for the mess they might make simply because they were kids. And I still cringe thinking about my mother doling out tiny packages of Sunmaid raisins--one per customer--to the trick-or-treaters at our door on Halloween, and the look of utter disbelief on their faces.

The other, related motivation is the desire to ensure and to prove that I'm not turning into her, even though I hold grudges and I can be stingy and I worry whenever I get the chance.

Now that my boys are old enough to be somewhat autonomous and socially engaged, and we're finally settled in a house that is roomy enough to accommodate a lot of energetic bodies, it seems that day has arrived. That, and the fact that the Zoloft has kicked in and I no longer fear interacting with other human beings.

This afternoon, we had an impromptu visit from three neighborhood girls. Iris, who is nine, lives right next door to us and is over all the time. Pixie, eight, and her sister, Ava, who is six, live around the corner and had met the boys only once before. But that didn't matter. The chemistry was intense and instantaneous. For about an hour, while I straightened up the kitchen and cooked dinner, the five of them (Lilah was on a walk with my sister-in-law) moved as one--into the playroom, out to the back yard, up to the play space on the third floor, and back down again. They played school, the played chase, they played all sorts of games I didn't understand and couldn't begin to explain. There was squealing and laughter and chatter and zero conflict or discontent. When the girls left, Ezra and Levi were flushed and sweaty and so wound up they could hardly see straight.

There was some extra cleaning up to do tonight, what with the train tracks that made it into the sofa cushions, and the Legos on the back steps. And the hour before bed--with the boys at their Jackass finest, entertaining each other with "see food" and pretty much doing cannonballs in the bath tub--nearly killed me.

But it was absolutely worth it.

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