John has a group of friends from childhood that he has stayed close with into adulthood. These cronies were partners in crime with him through harmless fun when they were little, and the more serious type of "adventures" that teenage boys with imagination and boredom tend to get into. John looked forward to the day his kids would create adventures with his buddies' kids. And when I say "looked forward to," I think he did this with excited anticipation but also a sense of dread now being on the other end of the spectrum and remembering the stress and worry that a group of boys can cause their parents.
One of these buddies lives just a few houses away from John's parents. This is a Norman Rockwell-esque neighborhood. It is the type of neighborhood where you can let your kids out to play without constantly supervising them. It is the type of neighborhood where everyone knows everyone and you can count on your neighbors to look out for each other. It is the type of neighborhood surrounded by woods and creeks and areas screaming to be explored with an adventure waiting around every corner.
So while visiting last weekend, we let our boy out to play checking occasionally to make sure he was unharmed. We didn't stand over him, but called out to confirm he was still within earshot, playing nicely, and not doing anything that would cause severe bodily injury or property damage. After about an hour, we lost track of him. We called and called but got no response. We started to worry. We ran around the yard and woods in the immediate area of the house and saw no sign of him. We started to REALLY worry. We called John's buddy. His girl was missing too. We figured they were playing together, but neither was answering to the calls.
John hopped in the car and started the search. He ran into his friend who was also driving around searching. John stayed in the neighborhood, searching around the woods and creek, while his buddy said he'd go look at nearby apartments where his girl sometimes went to play by the lake. John had no luck so left the neighborhood to go out on the road and head toward the apartments. He passed his buddy on the road, who had the angry and relieved look of a person who had a weight of worry lifted. His buddy pointed to the back seat indicating he had the misbehavers and was bringing them back home.
John followed his buddy back to his house, ready to read them the riot act. He would put on a good show of it. They were safe, and hadn't he done many of the same things when he was a boy? Hadn't he put his father through worry after worry? Looks like payback time had begun, maybe a little earlier than he was expecting.
When he opened the door to the back seat, there they sat, soaking wet and looking very guilty. But they also looked happy as heck and loyal to the end, neither blaming the other for trouble they were in.
I wonder who was the instigator, and if we are going to have to forbid them from playing together in the future.
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