I will be honest in telling you that our drive home today felt looonng. The trip was great, but by 6.5 hours in to our return, we were all dying to get out of the car. Holy moly. Anyway, the kids could not have had more fun. I was repeatedly struck by the fact that although there were six adults and four children (under the age of 6) in one house, there was no tension but rather a lovely sense of relaxation, ease and community. As hokey as it often sounds, raising kids in a "village" is so much easier, is so good for them, their parents and grandparents. As I was lucky to grow up by my grandparents and some extended family, my boys are now equally benefited by growing up near some of theirs, Tom's parents. But this week was a slightly different dynamic in that there were not only other grown-ups around, but also other kids, another whole nuclear family. I wondered how my two sons would interact with their two girl cousins, one 2, one just 7 months, neither of whom they really knew at all. But as in Italy where play trumped language as the real bond among children, here too it won out. The boys thought the baby was darling and "so nice." They found the 2 year old to be such a fun and good sport, and I do believe she was the only one who could really tolerate - enjoy?!- their incessant talking. Meanwhile, the adults filled in where needed, enjoying the kids in every way from one-on-one interactions to watching them from afar. Someone cooked, another cleaned. Some gave baths while others read stories and got kids into bed. It didn't require any sort of negotiation or even any real dialogue (although I will say there was a rather pronounced gender difference re proactive helping); it just worked, and I really found that to be a special experience.
It's always nice to get home though, too, and get everyone back into the routines to which they're used. Today is Percy's 7th birthday, so we fussed over him and gave him an extra supper. Oliver was happy to be back in his crib, Jack to have his array of books on tape to listen to as he nods off. I couldn't keep myself from cooking dinner so made a summery farro linguine which really hit the spot: corn, green onions, lots of basil, pecorino, lemon zest, garlic. Off to catch up on more TV -Don Draper, you better not go home with any bar chicks next season- and get a good night's sleep. Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!