Monday, December 13, 2010

Entering the Social Age

I loved watching my girls discover the world in their infant and toddler stages: finding their toes, exploring their fingers, tracking the kitties, blowing bubbles. I found fantastic joy in hearing their little voices sing, laugh, use big words to explain their ideas. I was tickled as they began to use logic in its elementary form. As these phases pass, I find myself sad to see them go. But life marches on, and each stage brings another form of joy to my life.

Enter, the social age. The age of laughter amongst friends, discovering new ideas through peers, of exploring the world beyond the family.

Last year, at E's request, we tried to get involved in our local Girl Scout organization. Unfortunately, they aren't very organized around here, so we were never able to get into a troop. In fact, we couldn't even get a leader to tell us when or where their meetings were. I tried to organize a troop of our own, but we couldn't find enough girls to create one, so we just let it rest.

Late last summer, a friend with a history of 4H activity and a penchant for homemaking skills invited E to join the 4H projects she was leading - sewing and cooking. VOILA! Instant 4H family!

At her first general meeting, E volunteered for just about everything: cookie committee, Secret Santa committee, Toys 4 Tots committee. (OK, our friend actually volunteered ME for the Toy project, and kids of adult volunteers are therefore volunteers by default.)

This past week, I had the pleasure of hosting our first 4H group event at our house:

This is yet another wondrous age. While V is still a bit reserved and certainly less interested in classes (besides horseback riding) or projects that take her away from family, E is increasingly interested in taking part in social activities on her own. This project was a perfect opportunity.

We set out a folding, plastic table on the front lawn, pulled all SORTS of craft supplies out of the craft drawer, set out two boxes and set the kids loose on the decorating project. It really didn't matter what they did with these boxes, which will be used at tonight's general meeting to collect gifts for Toys For Tots. They were all between the ages of 9 and 12, well mannered and creative. Once the project was explained, I left them to their own devices. Then, as I prepared dinner, I enjoyed through the kitchen window the music of laughter and joyful sound that only a gaggle of kids cut loose can provide.

They had a ball. And though the cleanup took a bit of time, I can hardly wait to host another project at our house.

I'm sad to see those infant and toddler years pass so quickly, but I'm thrilled to see my girls continue to flourish in the setting we've been able to provide them. I know already that these years, this parenthood period of my life, these will be the best years of my life.

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