Tonight I brought EV to a party with more or less the complete collection of college friends I regularly attended parties with in the summer before I met E – sans Erika in Boston and Jack, off being a turtle doctor somewhere, or doing whatever a turtle doctor does in cold weather when the turtles are presumably moving more slowly than normal.
(I’m sure Jack would tell me that’s a turtle misnomer, but Jack is not the topic of this post.)
The difference between college and today? We’re now all married (well, one re-married, two divorced), we drink less by an order of magnitude, and between the eight couples we have eleven children with another incoming.
(No, not from us. For heaven’s sake, get a hold of yourself.)
It is moments like these that remind me that I’ve never seen EV spend time with other children. Not by design, really. None of the children in the neighborhood passing my extensive background check to make sure they won’t tell her about Disney or princesses, she’s not exactly hanging out with babies.
(Just kidding – none of the neighborhood kids have even passed the qualifying verbal and potty exams to get to the background check.)
I set that chubby baby down on the floor and a fascinating thing happened. She had no interest in the other kids running and whooping all around her except for briefly babbling with another baby around her age. Instead, she wanted to explore, examine things, and smile at the adults.
(She also signaled for and used the big girl potty four times, because she is the best baby ever. In case you were wondering how that was going. Because you were.)
Effectively, it was like watching a young me exploring a social space. I never had any interest in other children – almost disdained them for their running and whooping. I never lacked for creative play ideas, but if I was at a party with adults I typically wanted to enjoy their company. Even now, I am not an extrovert at a party unless I am the host. I wander from conversation to conversation, sharing a laugh or a smile, and then I settle down in a corner regardless of if it is inhabited.
For a few hours tonight, EV and I both did that – sometimes together, sometimes independently.
I don’t mean to project that smaller me onto EV. She will be the person she will be, and that doesn’t have to be a reflection of me. Nor would I want it to be, honestly – I did plenty of great things as a child, but there’s a lot of things I could have handled better.
I suppose that’s the point of parenting just as much as it’s hard not to see yourself in the behavior of your child when they already look half the part.