Our first stop in the ‘state that thas more than corn’ was the town of Marion, where my in-laws reside. It marked the first time since June 2009 that the original five Johnson children and their families were all in the same place at the same time.
The Gort and the Hen love going to their grandparents’ house. There are swings. And a sandbox. And a plastic ice cream bucket filled with toy cars. It’s also the place where they reunite with their (seven) cousins.
As the kids have gotten older, cousin-time has evolved: from non-stop crying and injuring fests, to mostly fun and playing fests. While the adults (eleven including Jason’s parents) spend their time preparing food, tending to the kids, or trying to have snippets of conversations. Interspersed with distracted attempts to play board games and card games, while children waltz in with various requests and tattling slash reporting their cousins’ bad behavior.
Which is why the game-loving adults have little recourse but to play games later in the vening. When the babies are asleep and the older kids can watch a movie. On our last night we settled on playing a card tournament; assigning partners by drawing names from a hat. The tournament lasted an inordinately long time and it was 12.30 or 1 a.m. by the time we adults walked into the living room to collect our very sleepy children.
The Gort and the Hen were still awake, watching some animated movie whilst playing with toys in a less-than-energetic manner. One niece was conked out on the floor, fast asleep. While another sat alone at a card table, sleepily engaged in a solitary art project with a dry-erase marker. She was so focused on her work that she was completely oblivious to the fact that the room had been transformed into some sort of toxic wasteland thanks to the overwhelming dry-erase marker-fumes.
Call me weird, but I chuckled as I finally crawled into bed an hour later, thinking of my eight year old niece engulfed in marker-fumes at one o’clock in the morning. While her dad played cards in some pitiful makeshift tournament that rendered me the l-o-s-e-r.