Thanksgiving was spent with my paternal family - some, not all. A huge deal. We were a military family growing up and I have never spent any holiday with my paternal extended family as an adult - and maybe just once or twice growing up. In August, though, my darling Aunt Janet (at my cousin's husband's father's house, which is another story altogether) said, "I want you girls [Cheryl and I] to spend Thanksgiving with us in Gig Harbor." And at 31 and 28, it was probably time.
It was a lovely day, filled with family I had met, and family by marriage I had never met. It was meeting my Uncle Mike's lovely daughters, their spouses and children, 2 year old glitter sprinkling and tickling, catch up with cousins -- altogether wonderful and altogether completely foreign.
It was bravery (as I am completely inept at meeting new people - unless they're clients in crisis) and love and building bridges and stepping in to something this military child has never been comfortable with: close extended family relationships.
Up and back to Gig Harbor on Thursday.
On Friday, however, I drove to Pullman (that would be 6 hours) to spend time with Shoes and his family -- 3 brothers, one sister, spouses, children, mom, dad. Honestly? I adore them. Honestly? Again, this close extended family dynamic is so new to me. How do they know so much about each other? How do they keep in contact so often? So many times I sit there quietly, taking it in, afraid to disturb it.
But this was a story about 5 year old Michael. You've met Michael before, in one of my summer postings. He's the one who drew me the picture of the mermaid. I had taken my homework with me to Pullman, thinking the scant amount I knew I'd realistically be able to accomplish would be better than nothing (although ... here it is, 9:30 on the Sunday night before my last week of classes, and I feel behind ...). Michael and I are solid, so when he came and joined me on the couch as I was reading about social welfare reform, I was so glad for the company.
He asked what I was doing, and when I told him, "Homework," he raised an eyebrow and skeptically said, "That's NOT homework. You're just reading." Right. Not like his homework at all, although he probably does a better job at his homework than I would ever do. ;) So I showed him my syllabus and how it works, and told him that my homework WAS the reading and we would talk about the reading in class (and at 5, he tracked every word).
He cocked his head and looked at me for a moment. And then he declared, oh so matter of factly, "THAT is SO boring."
Kid's too smart for his own good.
Then he showed me how to use the elliptical downstairs and we played dress up.
Lucky. Figuring out how to be a family member at 31 might be figuring this out on the slow end of the learning curve, but I'll take it.