Mike joined the Navy right out of high school and saw the world. After his college graduation, he made an even huger geographical shift and moved to Vermont. There's family history there (VT) that I won't get into, but suffice to say all his siblings remain happily in Connecticut to this day. It must be, though, that his kids got that lone wonder gene. Travel is great and it's wonderful that they both have had opportunities to see the world--without even having to join the navy. But then they both settled and started their own families far away from Vermont. On the one hand, it gives us an excuse to travel. On the other, we miss large chunks of their lives. The youngest grand daughter was two and a half before we saw her in person. To rectify that situation, we took a trip to California last fall. Mike's son lives there with his three California girls.
The two little girls are delightful--bright and happy, well-behaved and polite. After an initial warm up period, they seemed comfortable interacting with the old folks, but they were also perfectly content to (and able to, as well) occupy themselves with their own kid games--digging a construction site in the sand, playing store, care taking with their dolls, drawing, looking at books and the occasional Disney video, learning to ride a bike, or just running around for the sheer joy of the moment.
Meal time was a revelation. They live in the heart of fruit and vegetable growing country and Mo is a vegetarian of the "nothing with four legs" variety so meals were a healthy representation of the food pyramid. Even the six year old seemed blissfully unaware of the existence of fast food! While it certainly wasn't the "children should be seen but not heard" of my grand mother's table, there was a happy mix of adult and child conversations going on.
After supper, it was time for the girls to get ready for bed--no fuss, no arguing. Faces washed, teeth brushed, jamies on. Then the sacred family ritual. Mom, Dad, and girls piled into the big bed and read stories. I loved this--reading to kids, one of my favorite things. Then kisses good-night and each girl into her own bedroom, lights out, sleeping.
I'm not thinking their family life is idyllic even though I've painted a rosy picture here. Parenting is hard under the best of circumstances and I don't even know what the best of circumstances actually might be. We got a two week-end glimpse into their lives. Still, I was so very impressed by how intentional Ken and Maureen are in their parenting. They are not just going about raising happy, well-behaved children. They seem to have a keen eye to the future and are trying to raise responsible, well-adjusted people.