Today was a very interesting day. I took the kids in their double stroller to the park. I took pictures as usual... then when Eleanor wanted to go down the tall twisty slide some older kids came along and it made me nervous because I didn't know what they would be like. Eleanor was watching them so much that she just stood there and wouldn't go then. Then she changed her mind and said she didn't want to.
Soon after she was content to go down the smaller slide by herself while the kids played nearby on these dinosaurs. The oldest was a boy and said Eleanor was cute. We got to talking and I made some important realizations. The boy was 11 and his sister was 7.5, they were incredibly sweet kids. The boy wouldn't stop talking, it sounded like he had so much bottled up inside him he just wanted to get out. Reminded me of growing up with MY talkative brother who was 4 years older than me.
But after going on and on about random things I saw a lot about their lives. Their parents were divorced, his dad had been remarried two times, he made friends better with girls than boys and a lot of kids had been very mean to him. Both the kids had medical problems. His dad was somewhat inactive at church and he thought he liked his sister better. He'd sworn at them before and... It sounded like a very hard life. Yet these kids were so kind. The girl's smile made me smile. The boy used bigger words and more adult talk than I had ever figured he would... they were darling.
They both loved babies, so they thought my kids were just adorable. The girl took Eleanor around, she took to her immediately. She helped her go down the big slide, she helped her up on the dinosaur and I watched her change. She wasn't so scared anymore, because her friend was beside her, holding her hand, telling her it was okay. It almost makes me wish Eleanor had an older sibling or cousin, it was incredible to see the change in her, to watch her confidence grow, to see her beaming face when she made in down the BIG slide.
I am so proud of her. I'm kind of proud of me too for letting go and letting her build these friendships all on her own. I could see it was so important for her. But I had to fight this horrible urge to treat her like a baby and do everything with her myself. It's hard. But she has a true friend, and that is priceless even if they never see each other again. She is growing up.
These kids were so kind and I wish I could have done more for them. It made me realize how wonderful it all is. Having kids, teaching them, learning with them. It's a beautiful process, and how important it is to show our kids good principles and keep them from the evils that we can. It's hard to believe that my kids will be that old someday, and have their own complex thoughts and feelings and all. It's easy to forget when the kids you live with talk about "Boo Boo POOPED!" and Garrett begging for "More! More!" food. But seeds are already planted... and my children are better than I ever imagined, really. To see their face light up when they put on a hat or when they laugh with each other after one of them falls down. It's precious. All of it.
I am so grateful I have them and grateful for this new little one on the way. I love them, and that love is eternal.