I’ve never really been a kid person. I’m not naturally good with kids. Growing up, I never babysat much, and my younger brother is less than a year younger than I am, so I never had (or sought) much contact with little kids. I didn’t dislike kids, although I’ve always found large loud groups of them to be a little obnoxious; but I didn’t have much experience of enjoying children.
So why did I choose to have children? Well, I like people. And people always start off as kids. And I knew that liking my own kids would be a whole different game than liking other people’s kids. So we started a family, and as I expected, I love my kids. Maybe that first year would have gone smoother if I’d had more experience with, or natural inclination for, childcare; but we survived, and even decided to have another, and now I’m excited to have a third princess on the way. We have lots of challenging moments, but on the whole, I love having kids!
What I didn’t expect was how much I would love other people’s kids.
I’ve been blessed to be raising children alongside several dear friends. We were single together, we all got married within a few years of one another, and now our children are growing up together. I shared almost my entire first pregnancy with one dear friend, whose son is less than three weeks older than my Maggie. Elizabeth and the new baby will also be growing up surrounded by close-in-age friends.
I’ve been struck, just recently, by how much I love my friends’ kids. I’m sure part of it is that I am hyper-emotional during pregnancy, but I’m moved to tears seeing a photo of Nora holding her new baby sister, and I cracked up at how Maggie and Owen wanted to see each other first thing in the morning on our camping trip, and even right now I want to go search Sarah’s facebook feed to see Mikey singing “Just Give Me a Reason” again. I am head over heels for these kids.
I even get a kick out of kids I don’t know quite so well. We hosted playgroup at our house last week, and when Maggie was having a hard time sharing her new swingset with her friends, I was so impressed with Stella comforting her, and Synwi ending his turn on the swing early so Maggie could get on. This weekend we had a visit from some old friends who moved away last year, and I was struck by how much I enjoyed their little girl, whom I barely know.
And babysitting? As I said, I was never a babysitter growing up, and I didn’t really take to it as an adult either. After we became stay-at-home moms, one or two of my friends would routinely watch other people’s kids, and I viewed it as a major undertaking – one that I was not really interested in. But a couple months ago I found myself watching a friend’s two children for a large part of my Saturday, and I was delighted to be doing it, and would have been delighted to have their third child here too. And right this moment I have three different families that I’m planning to call so I can babysit their kids for a morning sometime soon. Craziness!
I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t know what to do with a ten-year-old, but little kids? I love them. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become a kid person.