For some reason, it seemed easier to invite eight of Asher’s closest friends for a sleepover to celebrate his birthday than do an all-out shindig at some expensive playspace. And so I sent the invitations and culled the replies to a final tally of one girl, eight boys, 3-year-old Shaya, 6-year-old Eliana and Eliana’s best friend snuggled in my house last Saturday night.

And who would have expected the little boys to be so moody? I found C. in the basement, in a pop-up tent, sulking because B. was being mean to him. W. couldn’t sleep without his stuffed puppy (cute) and so he thrashed and kicked and rolled around the family room floor as the other boys drifted off to sleep. By midnight, it was Shaya asleep in my bed, me nodding off to Scrubs reruns and W. la-la-la beside me on the covers.

S. arrived after the hockey game elated to take part in the party. Everyone was happy to see him. Suddenly, he was grief-struck in sobs.

“I missed the pinata!” S. cried.

“But you went to the hockey game,” I tried to reason.

A. piped up: “I missed the pinata and I didn’t get a hockey game!”

“Take it up with your parents,” I told him.

No one wanted to play the board games that Asher had set out in “centers” around the main floor. My sensitive son was wounded, so A. offered to do “whatever the birthday boy wanted because it’s his party.” Still, no one played the games.

Two boys were concerned that my house wasn’t kosher enough for them. The girls seemed ok.

When did boys get so moody? Don’t get me wrong – they were adorable and full of heart and love and kindness. But honestly, the 6 girls who slept over last fall for Eliana’s birthday were a piece of cake in comparison.

There’s always someone who doesn’t show, of course, and the kids who come whose parents I’ve never met but for some reason they don’t mind letting their kid sleep at my house. In contrast, Asher has sworn to never attend sleep-away camp. That’s ok with me.

I like having the house to which all the kids flock. Last summer I was giving out popsicles and homemade muffins to a gaggle of neighborhood kids who came to play on our swingset. Their mothers thought I was running a day care. I only heard it through the rumor mill of course since none of them surfaced for a coffee klatch.

Last night, as Asher and I played tag on a nearby playground and raced each other around the “running track,” as my son calls it, the subject of metaphor came up. I don’t remember the actual context – and I wish I did, for my son is so profound – but it was something to the effect of fish should swim with the current instead of fighting to head upstream.

I explained what a metaphor is. He ran off to play.

It was a moment. For him, for me, then lost in time under the setting sun, the spring breezes and the questions left unspoken.

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