This exchange led me to think about how our back yard is really too big for the Grumpy Old Man and I to manage (we're definitely NOT green thumbs) and how next time, we'll probably look for a property with smaller yards, because the boys prefer to go to the park anyway.
The problem with this, of course, is that we have several large outdoor play equipment items, including two large trampolines and a cubby house, that we'd need to get rid off. I thought this out loud, and Viking was quite concerned, "Mum, it'd be fine to get rid of the cubby and one of the tramps, but don't get rid of both of them because I still jump on them!" I explained I had found a company that makes great trampolines which douhle as cubby houses, and once the Grumpy Old Man was working again, we could always replace the old trampolines for the Little Lama (yes, I know, hyper-consumption).
I said he still has several years of childhood left, and just as I said that I realised the dynamic in the house has really changed this year. Viking, Blue and Buddha all go to school, and to me they are now "the big boys", while Little Lama is most definately the baby, the small child... There is actually a bigger age gap (4 years and 1 month) between Blue and Buddha than between Buddha and Little Lama (that gap is 3 years and 2 months), but now it feels like Buddha is closer in age to Viking and Blue than to Little Lama.
In the next year or so, I'll be letting Viking and Blue take Buddha to the park with them, but Little Lama will be a stuck-at-home for some years to come.
These days, Viking and Blue participate in this family like slightly junior adults. They cook, they clean, they run errands independently. Our interactions with them are more and more as independent members of the house, community and society. We talk more about abstract ideas and philosophy and as consultants on life matters, than as directors of action. Even with Buddha, conversations are turning from "Now you need to do X" and more towards, "What did you think about Y?'...
This change crept up on me so quietly that this morning I've found myself marveling about what feels like a sudden shift of energies in this house. I like this new current. It feels more like we're part of a team, less like the Grumpy Old Man and I are hearding cats.