Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What I Did on My Trip to New England

Part 1: We Are Family

I think the kids are getting used to long car trips. Either that, or the hypnosis induced by the portable DVD player is deepening with each successive trip. Regardless, the car rides both there and back were notably benign.

We hadn't been to my sister's in an embarrassingly long time (largely because I'd been reluctant to travel so far away with the kids), and I didn't realize until we were there how much I had missed being in her home. And with Sean and Allie with us, the experience was better than ever.

Beth's kids are 10 and 8, the perfect older companions for our little ones. They have a ton of energy and are endlessly creative. And patient, too -- even when the kids got a little pesky, E and J didn't lose their patience (unlike, say, Sean and Allie's mom). I find it so touching to see Sean and Allie play with their cousins -- my other nephews are 24, 22, and 16, and although they see the kids often, the age difference will always keep them a little distant.

We kept our agenda low-key -- we went to a farm one day and on a bona fide hike another. I'm proud of how well Sean and Allie did on our little hike: not too much whining, a tolerable amount of needing to be carried, and only a hint of unstable footing as we navigated our way up a steep slope. I tell you, I am so starved for natural settings that afterward I felt like I had just emerged from an extended stay on Walden Pond.

Have I mentioned how cool my sister is? I have spent much of my life wishing I could be as strong, capable, funny, and smart as she is. And, more recently, as caring and patient and loving a parent. After seeing her handle some tricky situations with her kids, I'm becoming more aware that parenting is just going to get more complicated as our children grow up. Will someone as wimpy as I am be up to the task? (Not to mention someone as self-centered -- see how I somehow managed to steer a paragraph about my sister straight into my usual narcissistic territory? Sheesh.)

Anyway. Since this visit went so well, perhaps we won't wait another year to try it again.

I'll leave you with this cute little story: Beth and the kids have a pet guinea pig. After being afraid of it initially, Allie soon became its biggest fan. She'd sidle up to its cage, crouch down, point, and smile. Then, when she got a little braver, she'd announce "Go see guinea pig! Allie dance!" and wiggle her entire body in an exuberant dance performance for one very special rodent. The guinea pig would just munch on some lettuce leaves and seem altogether unmoved. Hmmph. Philistine.

(Coming tomorrow -- Part 2: Blogger Meetup)