DANGER! THESE KIDS ARE TOO CUTE AND MAY CAUSE “CLUCKYNESS”*
*Clucky:The desire to want kids.
Ross and I had the honor of spending the weekend in Dusseldorf, Germany with my pseudo brother Kevin and his family. I’ve known Kevin and his parents Peg and Keith (my heroes) from before I was born, he was the first person to hold me and he was dressed up as a clown. It’s a long story for another blog. Anyway… Kevin moved to Germany 7 years ago for work and met the lovely Ute 6 weeks in (he said goodbye to his dreams of European bachelor-hood quiet quickly). Since that time they have had a whirlwind adventure into domesticity. The fast track into the land of grownups seems to be the trend among many of my friends. In Beijing my best friend got married and had a baby in the last year while a few others have a bun in the oven. I have always loved kids, babies, and small cute cuddly animals…etc. While some people prefer to stay on the opposite side of the sidewalk when passing buggies with babies, I prefer to stroll up and totally engage with the little tyke. Call me clucky if you want but I’ve been this way for a long time. Our weekend in Dusseldorf however, may have pushed me over the line from “Ahhhh aren’t they so cute… to- Wow. These babies are little miracles.”
We arrived in Düsseldorf with absolutely PERFECT weather. Not a cloud in the sky and a totally mild temperature. Kevin greeted us at the streetcar stop just blocks away from his home. In each of his hands he held the small palms of his little German bundles of love. Noah, a tall, hyper active, electronic engineer, train fanatical 3 year old and his princess little sister Marina, 1 and a half…. The sight of him approaching took my breath away. You know when you see an old friend or family member and they have been transformed into an entirely different realm? Kevin was certainly a father and from what I learned that weekend… an incredible one. Noah took my hand like a total gentleman. He gave it a kiss and I felt faint ;). He proceeded to strike up a conversation in German, refusing to believe I didn’t understand him. This was the pattern the entire weekend. Too cute.
We went back to the house where Ute, his wife, greeted us in a towel, fresh out of the shower… she had a big grin and was apologetic for her towel state and simply as delightful as ever. We took a little rest in the back yard. I tried to play yoga with the babies, but they were more interested in the watermelon. Next we headed out into the city for an amazing weekend adventure. We basically followed Kevin and Ute’s weekend routine. We ate a complete German meal of curry worst and pommes (sausages and French fries) Kevin insists its health food ;). Next we play with boxes and balloons. Noah was infatuated with Ross’s camel back. He has been in a fireman stage and thought the portable water bag was amazing. Then we took a long walk by the river. Perfect day… no?
That night we hung out at the house, read some story books to the kids and after they went to bed we stayed up late chatting. The next day was more of the same… A big German breakfast at their local diner, a walk to a giant fish pond, playing in the park, and ice cream on the front porch. The day took an even more cliché turn when they pulled out the baby pool and finger paints. At this point the kids were covered in ice-cream, sand, and paint. This naturally turned into bubble bath time. I never knew bubble baths and a hyper active three year old could be such a hoot. That night we had a pasta salad in the back garden lit by candlelight. After the kids went to bed the four “grownups” stayed up and I got to have some family time with them… we talked about Grandma Pauline and again reflected on how cool our family trip to Italy was.
In retrospect… there wasn’t any one thing that was spectacular or out of the ordinary about the weekend (perhaps the amazing weather). To Kevin, Ute, and the kids, it was just a normal weekend. For Ross and I looking in, we saw pure treasure. Full days of playing with the cutest kids one could imagine. Trains, paints, pools, and books. Cartoons, ice cream, and bubble baths. Isn’t this what parenting and being a kid is all about? Of course it wasn’t totally perfect… there was the occasional afternoon tear crisis when nap time was looming… but Kevin and Ute brushed it off easily and walked through it with grace. By watching the family life in its reality I learned a few lessons. It brought me closer to the yogic idea of abhyasa… or CONSTANT practice. It seems pretty clear to me that having kids is the greatest daily practice one can undertake. I mean, it’s a never ending job. I didn’t see Kevin or Ute touch a cell phone or a computer the whole weekend (except for when taking the I-pad away from the kids, after their ten minuets were up…but that doesn’t count).
On Monday morning we were introduced to the work week routine… an early morning rise with breakfast at the table, and then the run out the door to work. The family sat and had every meal together, complete with a little sing-song prayer while holding hands before eating… “Beep, beep, beep…”. Seriously. Very cute. Another admirable thing we witnessed was the balance between their work and family life. Kevin and Ute both walked into the kitchen looking super sharp in their work suits and we were reminded that they have this whole other life outside of the family. Cool. Rock stars in the office and then on the weekend they devote themselves entirely to enjoying their time with the babies. What great role models to prospective grown ups like us. The bottom line though is that it is hard work. From what we saw with Kevin, Ute and the kids, it can be an amazing experience, but it takes commitment. Yes, I’m still clucky, but I’m having the time of my life frolicking around the globe with Ross… for now we will get our dose of fun-filled family weekends from those kind enough to let us join in. Thank you so much Kevin, Ute, Marina and Noah! Friends in Beijing, you are next! 😉