Riley had his birthday party today. It was at the local bowling alley. Unlimited bowling plus pizza and drinks and balloons made for a very, very fun event.
It was so much fun for me to see Riley with his friends. He invited five boys: four from his class plus a cousin, and then Maddie was there as the "bonus kid." Oh, and Riley invited our former neighbor, his football/general sporting buddy we'll call Indy. No one cried, no one got hurt, the kids took turns without being told to, there was no cutthroat competition, no overly rowdy behavior, and there was lots of camaraderie, support, hugging, and good sportsmanship. It really could not have gone better.
I've heard that these are the magical years, these early grade school times from five-ish to eight-ish. I've also heard lots of things that turned out not to be true about sleeping and tantrums and improvements in attitude or other behaviors that turned out not to be true. But this mythical idea of magical years, golden years, I'm starting to buy it. We have so much fun together now, me and Maddie and Riley. The kids are, for the most part, rational beings. Funny, smart rational beings, to boot. They are personable and curious and unendingly friendly. They are generous and kind and just plain happy. Sure, I'm biased. But they're pretty darn awesome.
I remember reading parenting books and advice columns and such in which people would express concern about how long it took them to feel really bonded with their kids. There's an expectation that if you parent someone that the bond is near instantaneous, the connection undeniable. I was always relieved, if a bit ashamed, to find that I wasn't alone in not feeling that immediately after Maddie and Riley were born. Oh, sure, I loved them immediately. But it's different now, and much, much deeper. I don't know how to explain it, exactly, and I'm way to exhausted to even be trying right now.
So I'll go to bed. Tomorrow will be Maddie's party. This is the first year they are having separate celebrations, and hers is unlimited rides on a fantastic local carousel + sack lunches + face painting. Riley is her "bonus kid," of course.
Everything feels different this year. I like it.