I’m being facetious, of course. But sometimes when you meet a great kid, other than your own, you just have to pause and think, “What if? . . .” In our case, there is one little guy of whom the Beloved Husband and I have said jokingly, “We sure wouldn’t mind if he and our daughter became an item in the future.”
What makes another child so great in our eyes? Kindness, intelligence, maturity, and generally being someone fun to hang out with. All this, we’ve found in A., a boy two years older than our Girl, and whom we’ve known for just over four years. I remember that when I was pregnant with the Boy, A. would come and comment on my babe-in-womb, in a way that was more mature than I would have expected of a child his age. And once the baby was born, A. proved to be as gentle and as interested as I thought he would be. In fact, he has a nurturing side of him that is quite unusual for boys, and we’ve always noticed him to be nothing but kind to other kids at the park. He’s the type of child who would offer to push a younger one on the swings, or ask if anyone hanging on the outskirts wanted to join in the game. I can’t think of any of the children at our local park who don’t naturally gravitate towards A.
When A. is with us, the three children can play together for hours. He’s the only child that I can think of in our children’s circle of friends, who has never ruffled a feather or produced any whispered complaints from anybody, after his departure. Yesterday, the three of them enjoyed over the course of many hours: a game of Jenga; a game of Scruples Jr.; lunchtime and snacks; two movies; two video games; a Lego competition; and a bike ride. All pretty much without adult supervision. All without a single negative word passing among them. Now, that’s rare.
And what’s the best thing about him? He truly likes us. Well, more accurately, he likes our children. A. has many times either come up to us at the park and asked if he could play with us, or knocked on our door and very politely enquired about an invitation inside. Both of our kids say often upon his departure, “That was really fun today. When do you think A. can come again?” It doesn’t matter that our Boy and Girl are both younger than him, and especially that the Boy is seven years younger (which to an 11-year-old, must seem like decades). A. finds a way to make himself fun and accessible to both of them. And just as our kids both immensely like A., he returns the sentiment: The nicest thing I ever heard him say was when he came up to us (the parents) one day and said in a serious, grown-up voice, “I really like playing with C. and O.. They’re such nice kids, and so smart, smarter than the kids I know at school.” When the love is flowing all around, it makes for a wonderful play date.
One day, either we or A. will move out of this neighbourhood, and we’ll miss him terribly. For now, we enjoy having him around as much as we can, and as parents, we can hold on half-jokingly to our dream that perhaps he’ll become a part of the family, one day years down the line.