The kids in question were one of my closest homeschooling mama friend’s daughters. The girls are 8 and almost 6 and I have known them since their mom and I met in prenatal yoga when we were pregnant with our firstborns. She and her husband went away for a night for their 10 year anniversary. My sons were with their dad for the night.
Was I scared? Darn straight. These girls are like nieces to me, and I adore them. But they are also very different from my boys and this terrified me. They are very independent (they wash their own hair in the shower!?), very adventurous (swimming deep into the ocean at the beach with no need to even look back at the shore for long stretches of time) and–oh, did I not mention this yet? THEY ARE GIRLS. And I have boys. I was terrified.
The drop-off went fine. They already know me as a fun, crazy, silly person and this worked in my favor. They see me as an ally. The plan was to go to the beach and meet my boys and my ex there.
We sang pop music really loud all the way to the beach, and I never pictured I’d be listening to “Like We’re Gonna Die Young” while an 8-year-old belted out “That magic in your pants is makin’ me blush” with me and the 6-year-old chiming in, “Fo Sho” like the back-up singers do. But that happened. And I figured if they know the lyrics, it’s not me introducing it to them; they already know them!
The beach was great. They played, they ate. We all went and got pizza after and I made sure no one dozed off in the car since my friend already told me her girls go to bed “between 8 and 9″ and I could not risk a car ride nap which would push that to 9 or 10. Mama was exhausted. And Mama’s boys go to bed at 7, so 8-9 was pushing it already!
They showered and bathed (with no help from me, amazingly) and they combed their pretty blond hair. I didn’t want them to think I was a weirdo, but I did offer to get out a few knots and had a few blissful moments of seeing what it’s like to have a girl and get to comb her hair… I kind of swooned. Their hair was so silky and pretty, and they have little headbands and funky skirts and cool sandals and shirts with kitty cats on them. Anyway.
They asked if we could play Bingo, and we did. It’s a Passover-themed Matzoh ball Bingo set I always bring when we all go camping, so they are familiar with it. This night, though, they asked a lot of questions about the things on the game. “Who’s Moses?” “Why is that boy opening the door? Who’s Elijah?” “Why are those people lifting heavy blocks while being whipped?” You know, typical Bingo questions.
I chose books that featured fairy-tale elements since I think girls dig that stuff. First was the classic The Donkey Prince, then I read a La Leche League published book called The Best Gifts, about a little girl who grows up and repeats the wonderful nurturing she had as a baby with her son, then a collage-illustrated art book about a doll based on a Woody Guthrie son called My Dolly, and finally, a lovely book called My Mama Had a Dancing Heart, which features a ballerina who remembers all the fun dancing she and her mother did throughout the seasons of her childhood.
The girls weren’t sure about that last one, because it’s a quiet, gentle book and they liked the other ones so much which I animated and sang and did voices for. But I read this last one because I love their mom so much. And she works so hard to be the best mom she can be. I know her girls appreciate her, but I wanted them to hear from another woman how amazing moms can be. I didn’t come right out and say it, but I hope one day I can show them the book again and tell them that I chose it because their mom is a gift to them and to me.
And it’s for friends like that that we go out of our comfort zone and create the community many of us never had as kids, and which many of us (especially the holistically-minded crunchy hippy types) don’t find so easily. We can create that, even in small ways, 28 hours at a time.