A couple of days ago, my niece and nephew came over to play for a few hours. The boys were so excited to show off their clubhouse and introduce Cooper and Catelyn to their secret club and to "Clubea," the foreign land lying just outside our back door.
They had only been outside for 15 minutes or so when I could tell that things were headed south. I went out to investigate and this is what I found:
- One tear-stained face of a six-year-old, who informed me that "we are in America!"
- Two boys, indignant and hurt that their cousin refused to recognize Clubea as a sovereign nation.
- Two preschoolers who couldn't care less about the battle and were only interested in the trampoline (much to the club president's chagrin).
Apparently, Cooper had used the club's sidewalk chalk to write: "Yor in umeriku." (You're in America.) Kimball had promptly, and with hostility, crossed it off, violating the strict codes of sidewalk chalk. He was in the process of summoning the residents of Clubea to Club Court by banging a rhythm on his drum (an upside down tin trashcan). Cooper refused to recognize the powers of the court.
Concerned that my little dictator was getting out of control with his cries for punishment for treachery, I sent him in to cool off in his bedroom for a few minutes, which generally works wonders. In the meantime, I tried to help Henry and Cooper come to some sort of understanding while Ian and Catelyn helped me pick tomatoes for dinner. Henry-turned-diplomat finally suggested that the concrete could be America for the afternoon while the dirt and weeds that make up the rest of our backyard would be Clubea. Cooper was satisfied with this compromise, although he wanted it to be clear that he would not be leaving America because, "This is the only free country! Clubea isn't a free country!"
When Kimball returned, he grudgingly agreed to join the international pact but spent a good 10 minutes debating with his American cousin the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of Clubea.
Despite these speedbumps they spent the rest of the afternoon playing well together as neighboring nations, if by together you mean playing in the backyard without entering each other's territory. Finally, Bronwen woke from her late nap and they were allowed back into the house, which was obviously neutral territory and the international friction subsided completely.
Jared and I chuckled over the incident. Those boys are definitely cousins! I guess that blood may be thicker than water, but concrete is even thicker.