Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Enjoying the kids, at 3 or 20.

Once upon a time, I was 21, and John was 25. We got married. We lived in a house made of badgers and cheese in Wisconsin. Our church was tiny, so we chose between friends who were 10 years younger or 10 years older (with the one exception - love you Sue!!). We often chose in favor of the younger, and headed up a little junior high youth group for a couple of years. John had actually lived with some of them since they were tiny. The boys were still pretty young, young enough that I could hold my own in frisbee golf, football, tag, and even threw one in the snow. It was great fun.

Now upon a time, I'm 29 and John is 33. Our new friends are around our age and we all have kids 6 and under. I've lost touch with middle and high school and young college kids. I think it will be great when my kids can actually take bike rides and play sports with me.

We visited those same kids (and their parents of course!) last week. They're all around 20, six feet tall men that would now scoff at a sporting competition with puny ME! Their kid brothers and sisters now played with my own kids, like doting older cousins.

Hanging out around all those grown up kids and their (smart!) parents was absolutely awesome, a total change of pace for us. The people made the vacation.

I was reminded that behind the cool, or gruff, or punk, or whatever exterior, these "kids" are really fun to hang out with, interesting to talk to. Hours of investment in their young lives has kept them surprisingly easy to reconnect with now.

It was exciting to think about our own four kids growing into such fascinating young adults. A glimpse of the craziness of the house in 10 or so years!

People always tell me that the harder parenting issues come up later. These parents and kids have to discuss parties, college, military, boyfriends, media time, cars, it's some crazy big stuff! Definitely bigger than the bedtimes and vegetable fights we wage now, I almost had to laugh at how worked up I get over this little stuff.

And what to do together as a family? It's easy now - zoo, park, pool, they all get unanimous cheers. Sitting down for dinner together with _everyone_ is downright simple now. The agreement, never mind the regular time, shrinks when they are around 20! Never mind dragging an 11-year-old along to the playground with the younger siblings.

I've come back home with a huge new appreciation for our young kids. A renewed enjoyment of the older kids, a realism and excitement about where mine are headed. And a new admiration for their parents, especially those in the trenches of helping their kids out the door to the big, wide world.

Figured I'd better write my thoughts down quickly, before I take yet another playground trip for granted or forget to value the college kids, friends, parents, and grandparents who I have in my life. Wouldn't you know, I don't have a single picture from the entire week of a kid anywhere near 20!

Love them now, love them when they grow up!

Four generations of my family.

Can you tell who is already getting too old for the zoo?

Hanging out with the little brothers of the "grown up" kids.


Don said...

Posts like this make me glad I read your blog. And I love lines like these, "I think it will be great when my kids can actually take bike rides and play sports with me." I remember it well... the younger years, the middle years, and the now years. It's all good, worthwhile, and challenging. Nice pics too!

Brent Barnett said...

So sorry I missed you guys! Actually, I totally forgot. Sue mentioned it a week before and around here stuff doesn't stay in my brain that long! My Anneke would have loved to play with your girls and Ellie. Hope you make it back again. We saw some of those "boys" a few weeks ago and I had to crane my neck to talk with them. Hard to believe they're all grown up. Hope you are feeling and growing well. Hi to everybody from us!

Susan said...

I just saw this...can you tell how up-to-date I am?!? I love you too and am SOSOSO thankful that I had you and John too...what great memories...hehehe!