Posted by Danny
When I was a kid we lived on Birkshire Road in Fayetteville, NC. Our house was the one where every kid would spend the entire summer. The boy across the street would arrive at our house at 8 am and my mom would finally kick him out at dusk. We’d play hide in go seek, boyland and girlland (I won’t go into the details but let your mind run wild!), and once my older brother had us shoot darts at people’s bare butts – the kind of dart with a suction cup on the end. Being the younger brother, I was never the target – primarily because I was a tattle tail and he knew better. I don’t think they ever stuck, but it was a remarkable thing to try.
Lisa and I had talked about wanting to be the house where kids were comfortable hanging out. I think she thought she’d have a better chance getting the poop on all of the boys. I just like people and noise. I also like to think of myself as cool. My oldest daughter would not concur – but I’ve seen some of her friend’s dads and I’m really not that bad (no offense dudes).
It hit me late last spring. With Lisa gone, there was a good chance that my kids would not have the same social opportunities as others. In our world, Lisa was the inviter – she invited people to dinner, she invited kids for play dates, she invited kids over to spend the night, she coordinated and invited to their birthday parties. I greeted the pizza man at the door and made sure he was paid. If I didn’t do something, my kids would spend their birthdays around our kitchen bar with a Food Lion cake and four grandparents cheering them on, period. I had a new role to play – I’d seen her do it. Certainly with my background as a Y camp counselor and my incredible role model in Lisa, I could handle the kids’ social activities.
My first attempt was a birthday party for Stephanie. We invited 12 girls for dinner at a local pizza joint, followed by popsicles at Loco Pops and then…the sleepover. I let Michelle have a friend over and threw in two for DJ. Grandparents helped with transportation.
After we ate, I took Michelle and Stephanie and their friends and headed out on Hillsborough Street near the NC State campus. It was about a five block walk from pizza to popsicles. With the grandfolks blocks behind us, the 16 of us started chanting Y songs as we strolled down the road.
Form the Orange
Form form the orange
Peel the orange
Peel peel the orange
Squeeze the orange
Squeeze squeeze the orange
The songs had motions and we all sang at full capacity. As we walked by the outdoor seating at Porter’s, a local restaurant, the diners lobbed out support – “Isn’t that cute.”
We eventually hit Sadlack’s, an institution in Raleigh: an outdoor bar with live music, a very eclectic crowd. I wasn’t sure how the clientele would respond to our fruity melodyies. I was pleasantly surprised, “Whoa, whoa – way to go old man!” “Check that dude out!” “You need this (holding out his beer) more than I do!” I felt like a rock star.
I’ve tried to continue to support my kids when they want to bring friends in. Tonight, we have the school cheerleading squad over – about 15 girls. They are dancing, they are laughing, they are LOUD! And they are awesome.
I’m really not that cool. They don’t give me the time of day. But I know that if Lisa could see this, she’s be smiling from cheek to cheek.
Oh, and rest assured I locked up all of the suction darts before the party started!