Roving Hordes

When I was young, I had two very distinct and separate rule sets imposed on my behavior. One was the “standard set,” which covered when I had to be home, what I was allowed to do, and all of the other boundaries around what was considered “acceptable behavior” for a lad my age.

Then there was the second set of rules, which completely overruled the first set whenever I was out and about with my cousins. Normal curfew of 8 PM – out with the cousins? Come home whenever. Not allowed to go into the woods on the far side of town – out with the cousins? Go wherever you want. If I got caught fighting while on my own, there’d be hell to pay – but if I had been out with my cousins and came home covered in blood with a human hand in my possession, no one would have questioned anything.

The lesson wasn’t just implied, it was explicit: the bonds of family are so worth forging that rules that get in the way of that are to be discarded. Rules are for safety, but in the minds of our clan, you were never safer than you were with a roving horde of your own kin.

And so it continues to this day. My own children are about to end their Spring Break and return to school tomorrow, so I told them I wanted a low-key day, early to bed, not a bunch of snacks, etc. But then The Cousins showed up at the door, and the whole lot of them vanished for the rest of the afternoon, showing back up well past their normal bedtime covered in ice cream.

Along the way they passed a few relatives who caught pictures of them wandering around town:

(Yes, everyone in that picture is related to me. Yes, they even took a stroller-bound toddler cousin with them on their adventures. The age range in this picture is 2 to 18. This has never been an issue and I don’t know why some people think it is.)

Despite my original plan for the day, I endorse the actual results with every fiber of my being. The bonds of clan are more important. No rule will make them safer or stronger than days spent wandering around their turf with roving hordes of their kin. And the children in this picture get this joyous life because of the bonds of their parents and grandparents before them.

If you have this family, treasure it. Don’t take it for granted – nurture and encourage it. If you don’t already have this family, find it. Families like this one take in strays; you can be a best friend or a neighbor or a spouse and it’s all the same to us. You just have to join the horde – or let it take you out for ice cream past your bedtime.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s