The only homes I visited with gates when I was a kid were farms with those big wooden split rail ones that you would have to stop the car to push open, drive through, then stop again and pull and latch it shut, lest some errant cow or goat escape. Nobody else had a gate, unless it was a cute little decorative picket-fence thing. Nobody even had a fenced yard.

But today we went to the home of a school friend of MissSix’s, and quite a home it was, and it did have a gate that was not a farm gate. To give you an idea of the scope of this property, it had two entrances, located in two different zip codes. The owners of the estate -- for that is what it was, an estate -- graciously invited all the 1st grade class, their parents and siblings, and the teacher and her husband for a end-of-the-year pool party. This is something I would never do because: 1. I have no pool; 2. I have no estate; 3. I have no patience, and 4. I would have nightmares of the Tommy Lee Incredibly-Unfortunate Children’s Pool Party. Oh, and 5. The dog is still shedding huge clumps of black fur and all the children would be covered in ice cream and dog fur and slugs from the backyard and someone would break a toilet and rivers of sludge would come flowing out from the upstairs bathroom and then the sprinkler system outside would go off and everyone would cry. I make a better guest than host, believe it.

Ah, man. What a place, what a place. It looked like a beautiful resort, with lots of wood and glass and natural stone, expansive but not cavernous, tasteful but not uptight at all. Huge tall trees and gardens and pathways are far as you could see. Now, I know that it does not take a place such as this to provide children with a wonderful place to grow up, but surely this is a kid paradise: a long zip line that runs between two big trees, a large wooden playset with swings and slides, enough lawn to host several soccer, football, or baseball games, a hot tub, a curvy pool with a slide, a three-story high observation tower, and so many places to run and play and hide and think and wonder, everything so beautiful and well-cared-for.

To the 1st grade’s credit, there were no skirmishes, mutinies, fights, injuries, pool noodle disputes, or bathroom accidents. Maybe it was the calm and peaceful atmosphere, the cloudy cool temps, or the blissed-out grown-ups also enjoying the day, chatting and eating burgers from the grill and fruit and chips and baked beans and cupcakes and brownies and beer. You can’t help but think, wow, what must that be like, to have a place like this. Good going, Hosts, good going.

Mr11 was beside himself, and ran up and hugged me. “Mom, can I just stay here a few days? This is so great!” I didn’t tell him I’d stay a few myself. He then mentioned that I should go downstairs and see “some Beatles stuff you’d like.” Well, don’t have to ask me twice. I made my way down past two crafting tables as big as ping-pong tables and there on the wall we have these LP covers, framed: Face To Face by the Kinks, Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones, The Who Sell Out, by the Who, a big Yellow Submarine wall hanging, and a framed Flaming Lips concert poster + ticket. Yes, I smiled.

I went back outside, walking alone across the back patio, listening to the yells and voices of the kids in the pool and the chatter of the adults, and poured myself a glass of San Pellegrino and plopped a lemon slice in it. As I made my way down the gravel path to the pool, a breeze wafted the delicious scent of honeysuckle over me, and this song came over the outdoor speakers:

After a bit, it was time to head out. MissSix insisted on doing a few more pool jumps before changing back into her clothes, then pilfered the rest of the brownies. Mr11 grabbed a cookie and just kept smiling. We thanked our gracious hosts, loaded up the car with wet towels and leftover beans, and drove back through the gate, winding down through the neighborhood, into the big green valley by the winery, and back towards Seattle-ish, where the laundry still needs to be put away.