Being surrounded by so many stimulating, stellar adults for the whole month of July is fantastic for me. I love it. But one of the things I’ve appreciated more than anything this year is the relationships that are forming between my kids and all these adults. I love it that my kids have all of these stellar people who love them and who they can look up to and who teach them things that I can’t (or that I don’t think of).
I love it how Jo plays “garbage guys” with Charlie and teaches him to work hard, how Charity makes Hazel feel like the coolest person alive, how Tal takes the kids on adventures and bird watches with them. I love how they look up to Josh as a school teacher and how he teaches them things, how Eli whips them into shape and helps them to be tough. I love how Shawni tells my kids over and over again how much she loves them. How my babies all fall in love with Saren since she looks like me. I love it how Jared and Noah and Dave have filled the gap of sarcasm and humor my kids must feel with their dad gone. I love how Kristi will snatch up Emmeline and her little Lyla to read them a story or how Aja will step in when Emmeline is having a tantrum or Peter needs to be held. I love it how Julie and Anita have persisted (and succeeded) in gaining grumpy Emmeline’s affection. These people are filling so many gaps, showering so much love on my kids. For example, sweet Aunt Chi Chi took these three little girls over to the tennis court for a sleep over one night. They ate candy and she asked them all questions about their dreams and fears and experiences and friends. They came home beaming. Hazel and Charity are kindred spirits and I know it boosts Hazel’s self image being so similar to someone she sees as so cool. I can tell Hazel that she’s cool and pretty and kind and good, but it doesn’t sink in as deep as when she feels it from Charity.
This year at Bear Lake Hazel has had a bit of trouble trying to figure out how to fit in in different social situations. At one point she was pretty darn upset and, despite my best efforts and listening and consoling and advising, I just wasn’t getting through to her. Then I had a brilliant idea. I told her that, under our very roof, we had an expert mother, the National Young Mother of the Year. I told her I was sure Shawni, with all her experience, would have some great suggestions and asked if she wanted to ask for Shawni’s advice. She lit right up. Seriously, who could pass up the chance to talk to the national expert? (Sorry Shawni, I’m sure you loved this!) I think Shawni probably said a lot of the same things I was saying to her, but somehow they rang much clearer to Hazel. They came through a channel uncluttered by a complex mother/daughter relationship. She grasped onto them and skipped back into the situation she was dreading.
I suspect that in the years to come there will be lots of other times where aunts and uncles will fill gaps with our kids that Jeff and I can’t reach. I’m so glad that we have such solid back up. If it does take a village to raise a child we have one, and I’m so thankful.