One of the things that Ifind fascinating and exciting is that real friendships are not governed by age. When Chet was about 3, maybe 4, we met a young high school girl that we were interviewing for a child care position within our church. At the time, my wife and I co -ran the religious ed program for our small UU church community. I think she was about 16 when we met her, but maybe she was all of 17.
She had an amazing ability to work with children and to invest a lot of her emotional energies in them. I never met a kid who didn't think that being with her was fun. And my son who stumped so many people, fell in love with her. She connected with Chet and was able to handle and channel his eccentricities in ways that didn't make his differences a problem. Ironically although we hadn't been looking for a day care provider for our family, she did become this. Primarily bailing us out in the summers as Chet grew older she would devise lovely summer experiences for him. She taught him card games, planted gardens, assauged his desire to acquire milk bottle tops from recyclables by giving him a bucket on her porch for those "treasures." Both Kirsty and i were working in those years and knowing he was somewhere both safe and loved, was such a relief. By the time she did this for us, she was a young married woman. One year, she had her first child and I remember how she let Chet hold her baby when she first brought him home from the hospital. I remember the look of awe on Chet's face and still have the slightly yellowed poloroid of the moment.
Summers were the bane of our existance in Chet's younger and middle school years. There could be no summer camp. He got thrown out of the YMCA summer camp. They tried but they couldn't handle his behaviors, his lack of social skills, his--well his essential Chet-ness. He was too uncoordinated for sports camps and he was too young to be alone yet. Again and again she came to our rescue.
Through all those years a friendship really developed between us, despite a rather significant--okay--gigantic difference in our ages. Eventually she and her husband sold their house in our city and moved to the country. We saw each other much less frequently. By now Chet was not needing care, and it was at the odd moment that we would catch up with one another. However whenever we did, it was as if we had seen each other yesterday.
Recently she had a Pampered Chef party and we were invited. We couldn't make the party but we did place an order. She called and said she thanked us for the order but she was so sorry we couldn't come because what she wanted most was to just chat and catch up. So when she got her order, she called again and said she'd like to stop by with beer bread and a spinach dip and deliver our goods and visit.
And visit we did. We talked the afternoon away. Chet came down and chatted a while. She still does amazing child care for kids out of her home (how many day care providers do you know that look into music classes because the preschooler loves music) Despite being generations apart, we still have so much in common. I find it is often rare to find other parents who share my philosophies of child rearing. It was just fun to spend an afternoon with someone who did, and it was fun to keep the fires of our friendship burning strongly.