My children are so blessed to have two sets of grown ups in their lives. We, their doting and adoring #1 fans as their parents and Dawn and Brenton... their "others".
No- this isn't some polyamourous thing... this is something quite unique; special and wonderful.
Dawn and Brenton are two young adults that we met at our church. They are engaged to be married this spring (YAY!) and they are in love with my children. My children are equally enthralled with them and so... they fulfill the role as the "other" close grown ups in their lives.
As a child, I always remember being shoo'ed away from the grownups. They seemed unwilling to share themselves, unable to acknowledge that I could participate in a "grown up" conversation. There was a distinct line drawn in the sand between the adults and the children and to cross it, meant I was "inturrupting" or being "nosey" or just plain bothering them.
I never knew that it was possible for children to have a special "somebody" or in my kids case "somebodies" that they could count on, trust, play with, talk with, lean on, cry to, love. Other than us, their parents that is...
But now they DO have that. And let me tell you how it works:
Dawn and Brenton care for my children often. Yes, they provide us with a service of childcare... but it's more than that. It's that they literally pick up where Alex and I have left off. It would be like me going to a meeting and having Alex stay home to continue the home life routine... or vice versa.
Dawn and Brenton know my children. They really "get" them. They know their likes and dislikes, their personalities, their wants and needs. They are able to give undivided attention since they have no dinner to cook, no phone calls to return, no laundry to fold or clean dishes that need a home. They are able to devote 100% of their attention on the task at hand with either kid... and as a result the children get the time they need that I don't think ANY family with two fulltime working parents could achieve.
They pull things out of our children that the kids might not have otherwise shared with us. And that's okay. Actually that's amazing... and important. Especially as they grow and develop their "secret identity lives" as sullen teenagers, emotional and hormonal and wanting very little to do with their parents. I imagine that Dawn and Brenton will become their living breathing diaries... journals that they can openly talk to without fear of punishment or disapproval. Not that Alex are so close minded and far from remembering what it was like to be young and make ill fated decisions... but we are the PARENTS and I think that by some inborn rule of thumb that you don't tell your parent that you just majorly f*cked up... you go "around it" but wouldn't it be so nice to think that they have these parental "stunt doubles" who had all the wisdom yet none of the authority that sometimes gets in the way of being able to be authentic with your parent?
Well... my hopes are that my children have it in these two amazingly creative and loving adult friends.
Of course as I say all this I am completely aware that this relationship would not be as endearing as it is if it weren't for the fact that Dawn and Brenton are equally fulfilled to have my children in their lives. I say this with the recent memory of a conversation with Dawn in which she told me that Brenton talked about my children for no less than 45 minutes the other night... about what they did and said and how they played and how much he loves them. In that conversation, the children were to them what they are to Alex and I... the sun, the moon AND the stars.
We love them, we adore them and we are so grateful that they are in EACH of our lives.