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2.21.2011

Kids as Rx

My sister Katrina is like the Pied Piper with kids. They traipse around after her scooping up what magic she spills in their path. In the past 2 days they built a snow fort, played monopoly, went to the movies, read stories, danced the two step, and enjoyed her treats like manna from heaven. It's a gift that everyone enjoys.

She and I share that magic ability with kids. I don't know where it came from but In any room we enter they glom to us like iron filings on a magnet. When we were young and went to family gatherings or parties where there were small children I never sought them out the way she did. They came to me. Our eyes would meet as they checked me out talking with their parent or sitting on my own. I'd smile and make a friendly sign and before too long they'd be telling me stories or I'd be on the floor tying shoes, helping them balance a full paper plate at the buffet table, or fixing the toy that inexplicably fell apart in their hands. Being shy and and a loner I didn't engage all that well with kids my age and certainly wasn't good with the adults. But the open honesty of young children was different.

When I was 14, I spent a week with an aunt and uncle in DC. Their two oldest daughters were 9 and 7 and they found me fascinating. They attached themselves to me from the end of school day until they were scooted off to bed and I loved it. At the time i was incredibly lonely and had no friends at school and spent all of my waking hours lost in daydreams or playing my flute. The Lincoln Memorial, National Gallery and Smithsonian were all filler waiting for the girls to come home and make me feel good about myself. This was a wake up call telling me that there were people out there who could like me. It opened a door that started me to attempt to communicate outside myself and learn social skills that my daydreaning and 4 hours of flute practice every day didn't afford. Ten years later I ran into those cousins at another cousin's wedding and they didn't remember me at all. No matter. It didn't change what they had done for me and I thanked them.

As I find myself telling the boys to give Katrina some breathing room and shooing them off to go find something else to do, I remember that oasis 40 years ago and recognize that Kat enjoys this as much as the boys. After being among strangers for 2 months in Mexico, having family that are that are excited to see you and have you around is a special thing. It's a connection that will last a lifetime.

Children will always bring out in you whatever it is you bring to them.