Thursday, May 2, 2013

Open Invitation


Feet, hands, my hair, basically anything she can grasp goes straight to her mouth. She's a delight. I am especially fond of our afternoons, when sister and brother come home, talking to her as if she is their age, not eight plus years younger. She waits until they've moved on to other entertainment (usually cleaning out the pantry of anything edible) and slips off into a small nap. During this nap time, I've taken to sketching again. Such a soothing practice, just paper, pencil, markers, and the newest addition of watercolor pencils. I'm having so much fun experimenting with those. The oldest and I enjoyed using a smashed strawberry to color wash a beet I illustrated.

Last week, I opened the garage door while painting some old bedside tables white for the nursery. Apparently, this is an open invitation for the younger children on the street to venture inside. Consequently, moms, dads, grandpas, toddlers, kindergartners, first, third, and fourth graders paraded in and out all week. One mom was forced into coming over by her father-in-law, who rang our bell at dinner time, introduced his grandson, and said, "Ok, I'll be back for him in about thirty minutes."

My husband and I just stared at each other in disbelief. Did this man really just leave a child with total strangers? I remarked the parents are lucky we aren't psychopaths, to which he responded that we aren't Republicans either, which they may believe to be even worse. Less than ten minutes later, the grandpa and the mom were at the front door, he looking pleased with himself and she like a woman on the verge of finding her child had been heinously murdered. I invited them in and heard her sigh of relief upon seeing her son intact and her sigh of consternation as her father-in-law exclaimed, "She is an introvert and needs to meet more folks!"

I found this all simultaneously hilarious and painful considering I am introverted too. I could completely empathize with her mortification over the whole scene. But, to her credit, she came over again the next day, and I think we will be friends, that is, if we continue force ourselves out to see each other again.

I grew up in households with open doors, both of my grandmother's homes were bustling with family and friends and I long for that sense of community as I get older. My husband recalls fondly his childhood memories of long meals at his Opa's house in Belgium, full of food, drink, and laughter. Strange, how isolating modern living can be, especially when you move to different cities and never see, much less know, neighbors. I can feel this changing in me though, a greater pull towards being involved in my small corner of the world. I feel as if I am being invited by life to do less growing up and more growing out.

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