A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out with a four year old when I went to his house for dinner. I was purportedly there to hang out with his parents, but secretly, my plan was to play with him. I even brought my own toys.
And play we did, with his brand-new Superman toy, trying to work a puzzle, and a rousing game of Candyland, which he won handily–twice. He showed me how he lights the Menorah, and then whispered in my hear that we should buy a Christmas tree. He played physically, doing cartwheels when he was happy, climbing on the couch and onto me while we were talking, then nestled warmly into the crook of my arm while we read a Richard Scarry book just before bed. We even sang a song. It was heaven.
His parents are great–smart and funny and great company and good conversation. I really like them. I may hang out with them again sometime, even if they don’t bring their son. But the sheer pleasure of being with that boy, with his unrestrained joy and curiosity, his growing awareness of the world and his fresh view of life, cannot be matched.
So far removed now from raising my own children, I had forgotten the sensory experience of being around kids, and the Candyland playdate reminded me of the submersion of parenting, the child-bubble of the early years. I know sometimes I desperately wanted out, but because of my daughter’s fraught medical condition, I purposely reveled in the physicality of child rearing, knowing how fleeting that time can be.
Teaching piano allowed me to spend time with young minds for a while, and it was exciting to be part of them learning something completely new and challenging. But the teacher role isn’t like the playmate role, as I was reminded during Candyland. With this kid, I could just be a kid myself, and it was such fun.
My role as a baby cuddler at the hospital has been one method of getting a baby fix while waiting for my own kids to be old enough to contemplate becoming parents. It’s not fair to put pressure on them for something *I* want, so I go up to the hospital and wrap my arms around little beings for a couple of hours.
About a month ago, I ran into a friend I used to work with, who has just moved into my neighborhood–and is pregnant with twins. And today, a close friend, who also lives three minutes away, just found out SHE is having twins.
My cup seriously runneth over.
While they will never be as important to me as my children, the idea of getting to be part of a passel of new lives is thrilling. I’m imagining the blankets I might sew for them, and spending time with the babies under the guise of giving the parents a break, and the toys, when they’re old enough, and books we’ll read, songs and games. Who knows, maybe a little piano here and there.