Thursday, July 14, 2005

A Social Outing! Wheee!

Yesterday, I got together with some friends from college. My friend K was visiting from Florida, and I think it was the first time the four of us had been in the same ZIP code in 3 years.

What fun! In addition to the four adults were our seven kids. I think if I had had some play group experience under my belt, all the attendant chaos wouldn't have seemed quite so overwhelming. But overwhelming in a good way.

Sean really warmed up to the other kids, most of whom were older than him (ranging from age 5 to 10). He tends to keep to himself when other kids are around, but this time he seemed quite engaged. I loved watching him play in the pool, somewhat oblivious to the rather elaborate rules the older girls were trying to enact ("Okay! Everyone out of the pool, line up back here, bigger kids first, jump in the pool, then jump right out. Now get those noodles out of the pool. Sean, you need to get out of the pool. Sean! Get out, Sean! Okay, go!"). He was having too much fun to notice that he couldn't jump as well as the big kids.

Allie was the youngest one there, and through luck of biology, I was the designated Allie Chaser. I was a little envious at first that my friends were able to chat by the pool, intervening verbally with their kids when necessary, while I zig-zagged across the yard in hot pursuit of She Who Will Not Stay Still, Ever. Fortunately my friends are also exceptionally considerate, and they decided they would take turns watching Allie so that I could sit by the pool for a bit, too.

The collective parenting that goes on in situations like this is striking. Everyone looks out for one another's kids, everyone pitches in, and it feels like a, well, community. In the "it takes a village" sense. I can imagine that the potential for hurt feelings or resentment is also great, depending on the degree of intervention and the diversity of parenting philosophies. In this case, though, we were all pretty much on the same page.

Also of note, my kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and successfully weathered the car-to-bed transfer -- with only minimal, short-lasting waking up. For Allie especially, this is nearly unprecedented. Normally, she wakes up as soon as the engine turns off and cannot be cajoled into falling back asleep.

I had planned on posting some photos, but my addled brain has struck again: I left the camera at my friend's house. It's an hour away, too, and I'm not exactly relishing the prospect of retrieving it. Oh, well. That's the only sour note for the whole day.