"But I don't even know these kids!" Tim complained as we drove to a restaurant yesterday to meet for dinner with 4 other families.
"Yes you do, even if you don't remember them very well. So you'd better be friendly." I instructed.
I had arranged a reunion with a group of people we have come to know as our "Parenting Group." It started out just after Timmy was born, and someone in the hospital came by and asked whether we would be interested in participating in an experimental program they were involved with through MSU. It was to give support to new parents. I remembered that a co-worker named Laurie who'd had a baby at this same hospital had told me that she had done this and become great friends with the families in her group, so I said yes. For the first four months a person came to visit me at home, and after that we were set up with a group of people with babies of the same age, where we would meet twice a month for lectures on topics such as "Feeding solid foods," "Sleeping through the Night Strategies," or "Developmental Milestones." The families all lived within a few miles and the babies were born within a couple of months of each other. After their first birthdays we were on our own to continue the group and we decided to do so, but we just moved on to more social activities such as going to parks, beaches, farms and each other's homes.
And so for the first few years these people became an important part of our lives, even though at first glance we might not appear to have much in common except for that One Big Thing of going from being a couple to a family. I think we were bonded in much the same way as other types of support groups: Hello my name is Mindy and I am a new parent.
And we would watch our babies grow and talk about them and notice how they were each unique. I remember having a conversation about how someday when they were older which personality traits they would probably still have.
And now here we were, 12 years later, with these 5 kids (and their siblings). We had continued to stay in touch and get together but for over the years it has been tapering off from seeing each other a couple of times a month, to a couple of times a year, and now a couple of years had gone by. And sure enough, they had changed into these pre-adolescents who had turned out much as we would have predicted they would. Brittany is lovely and accomplished, Nicholas is friendly and sincere, Aaron is eager and funny, Timmy is shy and thoughtful , and Jonathon is strong and active and still a magnet for crazy mishaps.
I had reserved a long table for 20 and the adults sat on one and and we just mixed all the kids together at the other. At first they sat there acting all weird and awkward but by the end of the meal they were all talking and laughing just as if they were old friends who had known each other, well, their whole lives.