Yesterday, we packed up a picnic, and headed out to our favorite park, with all manner of wheels. Andy spent about two hours on his roller blades, with short breaks on the blanket. Dan spent about half the time on his bike, switching to his blades to roll off with Andy. We've been coming to Mariposa park for about 8 years now. It was walking distance from our last house, so we were there almost every day since Andy was 3, and before Dan was born. Now, it's about 7 miles from our new home, and tho we have two neighborhood parks, neither one is as well-suited to our activities as Mariposa, so at least once a week -- often two or three times -- we spend a few hours there. Now that I'm home weekends, it's a regular destination for the four of us most weekends. The park has lots of parking, lots of sidewalks, a concrete basketball court --all essential for blading and biking -- shade, tables, and a playground.
With summer vacation on now, we find we're more often sharing the park with others. I'll admit we like to have it to ourselves -- I enjoy the quiet, and the boys enjoy the free access to the courts and sidewalks. One thing I've noticed is how often I see kids crying when it's time to go home, or unhappy with the outing in some way, usually to do with being overly controlled by their parent/s, or not getting enough help or involvement from their parents.
Noticing that caused me to reflect on what happy children our boys are. What a joyous and free life we enjoy. They are good friends and wonderful companions to each other. Sure, they bicker sometimes, and they're very different people at their core, but they really do look out for and think of each other. I attribute this to at least two things we've managed to give them -- security and autonomy. Our boys know we love not only them, but each other, and that our love for them, our desire to see them happy and joy-filled, is the outgrowth of that love. They also know that respecting their autonomy is my most deeply-held goal. It's not our place to dictate to them what their life should be. Rather it is our honor to watch them grow, to support in them the spark of whatever they love to do, to explore their path with them, led by their passions. We know they are already complete -- and magnificent -- individuals, capable of amazing, wondrous feats, and inherently joy-filled.
These are concepts I grew up without, so I don't know from my own experience how it feels to have security and autonomy, but I can see in our children, what a gift it is, and I'm so happy -- and at times surprised, challenged and humbled -- to be able to give this to them. I'm so very grateful for this life we live, together. For the love and joy and wonder in our lives every day.
Andy posed for this picture -- and for several other funny ones, with his hands over his eyes and his tongue sticking out -- and I just can't believe this boy of mine who looks - and is -- so self-assured, bright, loving, and thoughtful.
I sneaked this picture of Dan, but he didn't protest. How is it that my baby is so big? Look at those dancing eyes and that smile. In this shot, he had just skated over to us and was dropping onto the blanket to be 'in the middle' of a hug. His insistence on being in the middle of everything reminds me that it was his arrival that made our family 'done.'