My children are too large to exist very long within structures. I’m not talking about a daily schedule or discipline; I mean buildings plain and simple. I am doubly reminded of this at church. This last Sunday past they were literally bouncing off of door frames, rolling under pews, flipping off of couches, scattering holy bread, in the faces of nursing mothers, slipping blueberry bagels to the floor—all by accident , mostly. And it’s not as though I wasn’t trying to reign them in or remind them of consequences for tantruming behavior. They were humming. Wild in their bodies. They needed to run or climb or just roll in the grass.
So when I say large I mean of movement and gesture. Large of intention. Boundless. And strong, so strong of will (here’s looking at you G).
There are a number of upsides to this way of being. They infect the people they meet with life. Sure, there are those who resist, shooting me or them looks of annoyance or disapproval; but mostly every one is a new friend, someone they want to invite over to their house—which is another thing.
I have been recognizing in them a need for new friends. Jonah latched on immediately to a boy at the library the other day. Gabriel calls anyone close to his age his “new friend I met the other day.” If someone mentions a playdate, they’ll bug me for weeks on end. And I get it. They should. They’re blessed and cursed with a mother who keeps her center by staying In.
Whereas John, faced with the reality of tending two boys on his own, will plan a big adventure in the world beyond, I stay close to home. Short trips to break up the days. Something special in small pieces. I’m thinking about this in particular because John leaves for Italy in a few weeks (I know, Italy), and I’d rather be readier than not for the transition of us all without him. I’m not a big plan-maker, but I have to pay special attention to my person when he goes away. I tend to close off ahead of time, as if in preparation. I tend to become a walled city because I instinctively want to protect myself (or something). Maybe it comes of being on my own for awhile before I married. No, I’ve always been like this—that whole “I am a rock, I am an island” thing.
So I’m trying to remember the Emily Rapp quote I posted the other day, about have a soft front and a hard back. About responding defensively and resisting compassion. The world and us in it are always a mix of shaky vulnerability and strength. Which is what I particularly love about the boys, and about children in general.
[The following pictures were taken at the park upon meeting a new friend. She and J really hit it off. Especially fun was their twin hanging spins off the baby bucket swings. Click HERE for video. The slide-jump game was also rather thrilling.]