Some things you don’t outgrow

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 19, 2005

We went to a child’s birthday party on a recent Saturday. I was glad I didn’t miss it. Of course you don’t miss your grandchildren’s birthdays if you are anywhere near, even though your presence is noted only in passing by the honoree.

All birthdays are special, of course, but this party tugged a few special strings.

Our younger son’s family lives in Montgomery, and the party was for the youngest of their three daughters, who was turning four. Even though I occasionally grumble at being a useless appendage at such events, the children grow and change so quickly that it’s difficult to turn down an opportunity to see them. Everyone’s lives are so packed these days that sometimes an hour’s distance might as well be half a continent.

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Our daughter-in-law is a creative party planner, and this one was at the city park in Old Alabama Town. There is a great new playground for children, and the park is fenced, so it’s easier to keep an eye on everyone.

The party had a western theme, so there were cowboy hats, badges and water pistols for all of the kids.

What made it special for us was that some of the children running around were first cousins. Our older son and his wife and two children will be at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery for nearly a year, so for the first time our children and grandchildren are all in the same town.

Seeing the cousins together sent me on a nostalgia trip. I grew up with cousins all around. We played, we thought up things to do, we fought and we defended each other, and we got into trouble together. We depended on our grandmother to be a shield for us.

We see each other too seldom now – time and distance separate us – but when we are together what we talk about most often are the things we got in trouble for.

Our two boys did not have cousins nearby, but they were close enough in age to have friends in common, and they thought up things to do, fought, defended each other, and got into trouble together.

And they kept their lips as tightly zipped as any Mafioso. When they and we are together, they recall the things they got in trouble for. Whatever statute of limitations there might have been has long since expired, so they feel free to talk about the things that they’d have been in trouble for, if only we had caught them at the time.

I’m sure the list would have been longer if a few cousins had joined the mix.

Cousins are among life’s blessings – at least most of the time. As I watched the children playing, I hoped that by the time our son’s assignment at Maxwell ends, the children will have the opportunity to build some memories that they will recall fondly later. They’re a little young to get in much trouble, and I’m pretty sure their grandmother will cover for them.

As satisfying as it was to watch the children at play on Saturday, though, perhaps the best part was seeing our two grown sons chasing each other with water pistols, too. There are some things, thank goodness, that you don’t outgrow.

Bill Brown can be contacted at 377 Quail Hollow Drive, Dadeville AL 36853 or by e-mail at

(c)2005 William B. Brown