The little girl’s tight, golden curls sprung from her head in all directions. They bounced when the 4 year old talked so they were in constant, springy motion.
“Let’s make a rule that Nat Nat can only fall out of the golf cart once…” springy curled Claire stated as Nat Nat, who is barely 3, wailed her discomfort.
“I don’t want to fall out of the cart again, ” she cried, holding tight to my shoulders and mumbling under her breath once more how much she wanted her mommy and daddy.
“Well,” began Claire, and she set off on an explanation about bumps in the road and without using the word of inevitability, described exactly that with regards to Nat Nat and small motorized vehicles on farm roads.
In the golf cart was a total of five littles; five young minds housed in the heads of four girls and one lone boy. All of them were some where under the age of seven, mostly related, sisters and first cousins and then two whose blood and genes didn’t come from the same pool. But you could not have told this by looking at them. The girls who were sisters didn’t look it and while the children knew they didn’t all live in under the same roof, they clearly didn’t see the confines of their homes as the same as the confines of their family ties.
They had played well together for several hours. They reminded me of a bunch of atoms, gently bouncing off of each other, trading energy, a little kid cloud of electrons moving all around the farm. They played well together, the only drama was me dumping Nat Nat out of the cart.
As we made our way around the lake about a mile from the farm, trying to distract Nat Nat from the pull of parental reassurance, it hits me again. Despite having had three of my own, now that I am old, children absolutely astound me. They are like glimpsing into God’s crystal ball. They represent a million possibilities in what they have to offer the world once they are in charge. This little microcosm demonstrates that in spades. They are awash in varied talents and dispositions, wrapped in remarkable and curiously unique and yet similar packages.
Gracie, who is slightly tall for her age and a little bit worried about that is all gentleness and grace, a listener and watcher with a soft voice, bound and waiting to make important noise one day. She will surprise herself at her strength of ideas and ability to see them through. Then there’s Ade. Smart, frequently the center of the constantly moving cloud of electrons posing as kids, her straight, brown hair falling like a nicely raveled curtain to frame her face. She’s mentally agile and curious. Even little Ava, who is still very formative napping away in the old farm house because she wasn’t even 2 yet, hints at what she is going to have to offer us old people one day.
“What are you smiling about?” Ade asked me, when I pulled Kip into my lap and we changed golf cart little kid ‘drivers’.
“You,” I said.
Kip, who’d been surrounded by girls all day and not nearly as interested in the crayons and large drawing paper tablecloth in the new barn or the sidewalk chalk, liked the 64 Ford truck. He really enjoyed expressing this among other opinions, through repeated uses of the phrase “Holy Moly, Guacamole!”
“What did you just say?” I asked him when he’d been sauntering around the old rubber times and heavy weighted body of the truck. He’d repeated it. Multiple times, loud and soft, rolling the words around in a way that made me think they tasted like a chocolate candy bar to him. Back on the road, almost to the farm driveway, he said it again. It was his 5 year old joyful noise.
“Do you know the word for family in Spanish?” Grace asked me, over my shoulder, as we pulled up to the new barn and all of the adults spilled out of it to meet us. The peace of the farm had done it’s magic. It had hovered above the wintery meadows and old water oaks and seeped into us, and soothed gently.
“It’s familia,” answered Ade.
“Yes, I know that word,” I said.
“We say that we are familia, even though we really aren’t,” Grace explained. “I think you can be our familia too.”
Way ahead of you, child of my heart.
Note from author: The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to stop and recognize the people, large and small, young and old, that God brings into your familia. This truly is God’s plan, your treasure on this planet, the part of this life that makes us want to be better, do better, act better. It’s my prayer if you are reading this, that whoever God puts into your life, that the blessing of familia be a reality that transcends your worries, doubts, anger, and fear. I pray that it makes a path for you to be able to see things outside your own perspective, appreciate that diversity drives our ability to adapt, and that you and yours will make a difference in the way only you can.