I've had Greg's parents in town now for almost two months. They bought a house about three years ago just over the hill from us. It's a six minute drive and the distance couldn't be more perfect. They adore the children and will help me whenever I need it. This creates a more complicated situation than what might immediately be apparent; because they are almost always available and will nearly always say yes, I am constantly worrying about when and why to ask them to come and take the children and whether I'm using them more or less than I should. In any case, this winter I've been liberal in my requests given that I am under the impression that things shouldn't be more logistically complicated ever again. (am I wrong? it's the two nappers, no overlapping naps, that seems to me can only get easier.)
So today they came at 1 pm and I was able to go off and drive for a field trip for Aoife. She was in a multi-age mini course at school where they raised money and collected products for our local survival center. The last day of the course was the trip to the center to drop off the goods. I was the chauffeur for Aoife, an eighth grade girl (who Aoife was over the moon about), a third grade boy and a fifth grade boy. I collected my group and headed for the car. I organized where they were sitting and made sure everyone was buckled in and started the engine.
The strangest thing happened.
I started to feel shy. There I was, somebody's mom, driving the mini-van, the radio tuned to the top-40 radio station, and I was wondering to myself whether maybe I should be changing the station to the more folksey station. Would I seem to eager to please if I kept on the Katy Perry? Would I seem stodgy if I switched it over to Dar Williams? I found myself imagining each child's parents and trying to picture what would be playing in their car. Aoife was giggling in the back seat, cracking jokes and trying to entertain the older girl beside her, and the boys were quiet. I felt like I should be talking to them.... but about what? I couldn't think of anything to say. I almost started to laugh that I was feeling so awkward in the presence of these adorable, sweet, mild mannered boys. One of them was even in Liam's class! I've got one of these, but still I felt like I was in the seventh grade again.
This is just one of many moments that I have as a definite adult, currently a thirty five year old woman who has birthed five children, where I am reminded that childhood and adulthood are all just human experience. We never really outgrow being children, and so many of those emotions that we imagine as kids that we'll completely overcome by the time we're "grown up" still persist well into adulthood. I took a deep breath. If anything, in the 23 years since seventh grade I've learned that sometimes you just have to take the plunge and feel shy. I threw out a few questions to the boys. They answered awkwardly. And then, I was saved.
Saved, by my five year old daughter, who is not shy. She started to pass around her princess Viewmaster. The boys were captivated. Laughter ensued. I switched it back to the folk station and drove happily to our destination.