We spent the day being tourists, myself and the kids. We left Willem home alone to wrestle with the complexities of syllabi and course prep, and wandered northward to see America’s Stonehenge, in Salem, NH. It’s a neat enough little place, I suppose; if you were far more knowledgeable and interested in astronomy and things like equinoxes and solstices and true north, then it’s probably beyond fascinating. For me, being neither knowledgeable nor especially interested, it was a pleasant day to be outside and wandering in the woods, and I have a great appreciation for a place that could have been set up with flashing lights and displays, and instead has been left largely in its found-it-this-way state and lets people wander around at will.
The kids found it somewhat more adventurous and exciting, what with its caves and big frogs and tunnels. And they had reinforcement that their mother is in possession of a certain measure of awesome, since the first thing they wished aloud for was a flashlight and I just happen to carry a little LED light in my purse.
We went with Jenny and her kids – Jenny of the monthly-lunch and the sleepover earlier this summer – and everyone got along swimmingly. Her kids are scattered in between mine, agewise, and aside from her middle child’s tendency to get left out as the bigger kids run ahead – she’s four, and her legs are just enough shorter that they can’t quite keep up – they clump together in a chattery, excited group, turning a walk in the woods among some scattered piles of rocks into an Indiana Jones style trek.
I forget, sometimes, that one of my favorite things about Jenny is her ability to articulate fairly deep and complicated emotions, of the type that aren’t inherently embarrassing (one could argue that no emotions are, but I think a deep-seated attraction to one’s bus driver or a knee-jerk aversion to a friend’s significant other might be better left unsaid), but that many people would find difficult to put to words. Things like admiration, and empathy, and jealousy; they’re fundamental and universal sorts of things, but I don’t realize how hard they are for some people to express until I hear her do it without apparent hesitation or struggle.
And she seems to have passed this ability on to her youngest, though – at 13 months – he’s not yet able to attach words to it all. But he’s a mellow, observant little guy, and it is clear to me that when we make eye contact, he is instantly able to read every secret in my heart, every fear and hope and wish. He’s able to read into the very depths of my soul, and at this point, he’s clearly just withholding judgment on it all. I try to keep my thoughts pure and my actions honorable when in his presence, because otherwise I shudder to think what he’ll say, once verbal communication advances beyond the occasional one-syllable declaration.