My dear friend P. left Tuesday after a brief 6 day visit with us. She is one of my dearest friends and housemate from Boston. We surprised all the kids last Thursday by not telling them she was coming and just showing up at their school pickups. They were thrilled! Pollito saw her and gasped! His teacher was shocked to hear that and then he just ran and jumped into her arms! He smiled from ear to ear. Tortuga did a double take and then had to pull her car door open to give her a hug, even though we were in the drop off lane and holding up traffic. Corazon was leaving her gym and ran into P. at the restroom and couldn't believe her eyes. She just beamed as she came out to the car with her. It is wonderful to see the kids so happy to see someone and it genuinely looks like they have formed a strong attachment to her over the time we were in Boston together. They spent the whole weekend vying for her attention and sharing all the significant things they could recall. Even Milagro warmed up pretty quickly and recognized that she was special. She would prop herself in P.'s lap whenever we were all sitting in the family room winding down. It was precious to hear her say "love you Po" which was the closest she could get to saying her full name.
Having P. here was great for me because this was C.'s "hell days" as she wraps up her teaching and her coursework. She provided me with company, an extra pair or hands, and was able to give the kids some one-on-one attention. She also babysat Milagro and made it possible for me to chaperone one of Corazon's field trips. We went to see "Earth" with her class. It was really nice to observe her behaving very much like a regular kid. She was so happy I was there and it helped her relax and just be. Even her teacher commented on how calm and centered she seemed. I gave her some space but got to "spy" on her and recognize what a great kid she is. We were eating lunch at Subw*y and one of the chaperones, a grandma, was entering after everyone else. She had her hands full and Corazon leaped up from her lunch to go open the door for her even though she was probably at a table farthest from the door. When finished eating she came over to my table and cleared my trash and that of the 2 other adults at the table without being asked. She offered to buy me something at the movie snack bar with her money. Lastly, they had about 45 minutes after the movie to "shop" and she asked if she could buy something she'd been wanting for awhile in one of the stores. Next thing I knew she had picked out two stuffed animals (Webk*nz). One was for her and the other for Milagro. She insisted on paying for them with her own money even though it depleted her cash. I have such a generous kid! All in all we had a good day and she thanked me for coming along. I wonder how long that will last.
P. and I have an easy relationship where we can tell each other most things and question each other and not get upset with one another if we say something that sounds too critical or that we completely disagree with. I miss her. Yet I also had to realize that I don't miss our lives in Boston too much. I miss my friends and my close colleagues. I miss teaching and having a place to go, like work, without the kids constantly interrupting me. I miss the intellectual and academic stimulation of my work and my students. All of these are important but I don't miss too much else. I like the pace of our lives here. I like that people are more pleasant, warmer, friendlier and generally more relaxed. It makes my kids (and me) that way too. I notice that we don't "rush" as often, get caught in hellish traffic no matter what time of day, and we take time to stop to chat with neighbors, go for ice cream, or make a quick run to the grocery store without it feeling like a major outing or inconvenience. I know some of it is that I am not working full-time and have only a little consulting work to do so most of the time I can focus on them, their needs, and the household stuff. But, it is also the culture of this place. I am not ready to say I like everything about being back in Texas because nothing could be farther from the truth. Yet, I had to admit, this agrees with us. All of us, except maybe C. who I think suffers the greatest culture shock. The kids love being here even though they can't articulate why that is. But I get it because I feel it too.
When P. said goodbye to the kids it was telling. Pollito teared up and got very sad and clingy with me. Corazon cried. Tortuga didn't seem affected by it at all. I am noticing that more and more with him. Besides me, he doesn't seem to care one way or the other if people are around or not. That saddens and scares me. I know it's only been 2 years and he had a whole other life before us and has limited experience living with a family so maybe I expect too much too soon.