___________February 23, 2016__________

When We Click

Yesterday, I went to a forest playgroup.  They go to a different hiking venue/park and let their kids ‘explore’ every month- so I thought it might be worth trying as our monthly hike (although they meet weekly.  We’d just go the once a month, if it worked out).  Maybe let the kids interact freely (not under a supervised activity) with other homeschool kids.

Except that I screwed up in assuming it was homeschool kids.  And apparently there are some involved, but…

We got there (Hager Park) and there were five moms.  About eight kids, all ranging in age from 24 months to four years old.  (!!!)  And basically what happened was that the moms put their children in waterproof weird suits over their winter clothing, crammed their little feet in mud boots, and let the toddlers/children climb down in gullies filled with water to ‘play in nature’.  Those kids were SATURATED, mud up their nostrils, soaked to the eyebrows, while the moms stood nearby and said, “Eh, you’re fine, get up, and play.”  when they fell face first in the sludge.   (!!!)

There was only ONE kid over 4 years of age – a 12yo boy, and his mom made a BEELINE for us.  And she latched on to me, and became my newest BEST FRIEND IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!  I’m not kidding.  She was just SO happy to have a fellow homeschooler who had an older kid (or five) and could actually *hike*!  Because (as we discovered, quickly), this group’s idea of ‘hiking’ was to move about an inch every five minutes.  At the pace of the youngest child.  So this woman all but linked arms with me and off we went, to actually HIKE.  And as we were taking the trail, she talked.  And talked. And talked, and talked, and talked, and… homiGAwSH!  We clicked the way that I clicked with BFF, and that hasn’t happened in FIFTEEN YEARS.  It was seriously disturbing.  And I was already disturbed about friendships because of a book I’d read, the night before.

Most people would be happy to make a friend.  I’m not… I don’t… !!!   Do I need another friend?  I’m happy with my BFF, to be honest.  And anyhow – what is WRONG, that people aren’t afraid to come up to me, anymore?  I used to be so good at repelling humans.  I’m afraid of having friends.  And I feel like if I have friends, then I’m replacing my relationship with God for something inferior.  Sort of.  I don’t know, I’m not sure how to explain my angst.

Back to the story.  TWO HOURS we were together.  I wouldn’t let my kids down in the water (it’s freakin’ 30 degrees out, they don’t need to be soaked in those temps!), and really they wanted to play at the playgrounds, anyhow.  At one end of the playground was one of those wooden fortress [modern] playgrounds, and at the other end was a 70s metal play area (with merry-go-round, swings, a tall free-standing slide, an eagle’s nest, and a four-way teeter thinger).  Not surprisingly, the kids had MORE fun on the 70s play stuff than in the ‘safer’, bigger fortress thing. (It was easier to watch their play without giant walls and mazes in the way, too.  Modern stuff sucks.)  And all the while, I heard this woman’s entire life story.  I swear, she never took a breath.  And I’m not saying I wasn’t interactive, just that… HER.  Y’know?!?!

I felt kind of bad about the other ladies.  Like I’m the new girl, swoop in and nab one woman and whisk her away, and don’t socialize with the other women.  Which is NOT what happened, but… it might look that way.  But honestly, the few minutes I spent with them showed them to be of the bland personality types, anyhow.  And I’m pretty sure they were frowning on us playing on man-made things (and not in nature) – but what does it matter?  The kids are actually getting MORE exercise on the play equipment, getting just as much fresh air, bonding with the (((one))) kid, and having a glorious – DRY – time.  And really, what were the ‘naturalists’ teaching their kids by letting them slop in a creek bed, once a week?  Really?

[I have no filter.  And might be a *tinge* prissy/cautious.]

By the time we got out of there, my kids were starving (3pm, still no lunch), Ethan desperately needed a kleenex (he’s got a cold, probably will spread the germs the rest of the week), and several had to use the potty.  That woman did NOT want us to go.  She actually wanted very much for us to just get together as a pair (with six kids), again.  She was… nice but frightening (see above semi-explanation).  I came away just wanting to find Brian – NOW – grab him, hold him tight, and not MOVE or speak or THINK for a good twenty minutes.  I had to settle for brief kiddo hugs outside the Hudsonville McDonald’s.  They humor me.  A lot.

Home gave us just enough time to wash/dry my swimsuit (Whoops!  Forgot about that.) and do math/grammar.  We were running so late, Brian and the home-boys [<<hahaha] had to tend critters while Owen, Lydia, and I scrambled to get ready for swim/dance.

No lanes, no music, no swim coach, no annoying women.  Just bearded flipper guy, and he left early.  I was WAY to strung out from playgroup to even make eye contact before he was gone.  I just swam. It was quiet.  It was good.  I felt like I was calming down, losing some of the stress.

Owen started losing his mind at dance, though.  Too much excitement in one day.  He was *wound* up, and adding the cocoa/coffee drink that just compounded things.  He… was the toughest to have at dance.  And it wasn’t all his fault – it was a full moon (EVERYONE was crazy).

I was glad to see my BFF at dance.  Have I mentioned it’s good just to have ONE friend, and not feel so stretched, so over-extended?  I’m really… apparently screwed up.

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