As I was getting ready for my trip last week, I started to have an odd sensation. It felt like nervousness, but I couldn't place why I was feeling it. Then, suddenly, it hit me: I had never left all my children overnight with nonfamily. Now I was leaving them and going over 2 hours away. My children are pretty independent, but there was no way to judge how they would react to a complete disruption of routine and normalcy. In honesty, I was more worried about what that would mean for my friends (who had graciously offered to take the kids) than to my children. Because I know what it is like for me when my children have a break down. It is not a pleasant experience!
So we dropped off the youngest, leaving the other children to be picked up after school, and headed to New York. Then I forgot to call. All evening. It wasn't till half way through dinner (way past bedtimes) that it occurred to me I hadn't checked in with anyone. I made a couple of quick calls and talked to one of my friends, who assured me all was well. The next morning I finally talked to the same batch of kids. My phone somehow missed my other friend calling me back, even though I was holding the phone in my hand at the time it should have been ringing.
So after the play, as I headed home, I finally got ahold of everyone and made my plans for regathering the kids. I reached the first house (the one where I hadn't spoken to the kids for 2 entire days). The reaction was luke warm from Ethan and Kirsti, until Matthew saw me. Then it turned downright acidic. So I loaded up the kids, my 3 year old screaming that he didn't want to leave yet, and begging me to let him move there. I arrived home to meet my second group. Ryan had fallen asleep, Joseph was enjoying cuddle time with my friend, and Elise was in the bath. Glad to know I was missed.
Actually, I was relieved my children had fun. But I was left in a quandary. How do you thank friends who watch your children overnight, make special trips into town to drop and pick them up from school, are kind enough that your children are comfortable staying there, and then insist that your children were delightful? How? It is the last part that left me totally stumped. I love my children fiercely, but am perfectly aware that they can be a bit difficult. Granted Elise no longer dumps flour all over the cupboards, Ryan doesn't take apart electrical outlets, and even Joseph is beginning to calm down a bit, but still I get nervous that after watching my kids people might question their sanity for having offered. Even if they did, they didn't let on to me at all. That is true kindness.
I was thinking proper thanks might include kidney donation or indentured servitude, but settled on more standard chocolate and a gift card from Chili's. Oh, and undying gratitude. Thanks guys!