This Calls for a Coronation

By Monday afternoon, I was tired. The three-day Labor Day holiday was lovely – a chance to enjoy one last summer weekend. We packed a lot in. Two birthday parties, a couple play dates, multiple trips to a newly completed splash park in town. There were extra kids at the dinner table and spending the night. It was fun – and it was exhausting.

By Monday afternoon, I was ready to sit on the porch and read a book.

Instead, I hosted a spontaneous coronation ceremony involving nine children from five neighborhood households. Obviously. Because that’s what motherhood is, my friends.

Sometimes creativity strikes without warning and you just have to go with it. As I was surveying a freshly mown lawn and thinking fondly of a quiet lunch, my oldest child and a friend skidded into the driveway on their bicycles, their eyes shining with Big Plans.

There was to be a coronation that afternoon. Two additional neighbor girls were to be crowned queens and there were preparations to be made for the big event. Queen of what, I asked, and was rewarded with looks of mixed derision and pity – as if one needed a reason to pick flowers, make decorations, and bestow crowns.

I confess that I absorbed this announcement with some misgivings. It was hot. I was tired. And truthfully, I don’t have a natural affinity for creative play. I enjoy board games, art projects, and playing catch in the front yard. I don’t instinctively love blanket forts or make believe or dollie tea parties. I can appreciate their charm from a safe distance but find facilitating them to be very draining.

Luckily for me, the tweens were up to the task of party-planning with minimal adult involvement. My primary roll was Provider of Supplies. They leapt into a flurry of activity, with the screened porch at the epicenter, and would dash inside with requests – for streamers, for a basket to hold flowers, for makeup. I was able to accommodate most of their desires, scrounging up rolls of ribbon, a small wicker basket, and a sparkly white eye shadow.

I drew a line, however, after catching my son heading outside with several containers of superfine glitter. I’m fairly laid back, but there are limits.

The hour of the event arrived with much fanfare. Pretty dresses were donned, eye shadow applied. Siblings arrived to play the role of audience/adoring peasantry. A tray of snacks (cheese sticks, Doritos, grapes, and beef jerky) was arranged with much care and consideration.

My youngest daughter – the designated flower girl – gripped her wicker basket filled with blossoms from the yard, then flung them joyously around the porch where they were ground into the cement floor by the enthusiastic footfalls of royalty. My son – having solemnly donned a three-piece suit – carried the cardboard crowns on a pillow.

As is so often the case with creative endeavors, much more time was spent on planning the event than on its execution. Within five minutes, the crowns had been placed and the snacks eaten and everyone flowed out the door, ready for the next adventure.

It wasn’t a restful afternoon, but it was beautiful. I treasure those rare moments of familial cooperation, where my feisty threesome can find common creative purpose and set aside their near-constant squabbling for an afternoon. And I love our neighborhood and the people who live here, for fostering an environment where spontaneous coronations are possible. A crown, some ribbons, and a good snack tray make any day better.

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