Last week I was driving three chatty boys to soccer practice. Did you know people actually think brown cows make chocolate milk?! Messi is the best soccer play in the WORLD. I love that playground. I think my aunt used to live there.
The conversation was disjointed. I’m not sure any of them were listening to each other, but I was listening to them. You don’t often get the chance to listen to boys in their natural habitat, so I was going to seize this opportunity.
I honestly thought 2nd graders were mute or prone to one-word answers, but in their herd, they ramble on in run-on sentences. Periods be damned! Breathing between words is for the weak. Wait for someone to stop talking first? Please, that’s how the elders speak.
In between one of the many fart jokes, they started talking about their siblings. “I have two older brothers,” one said. The other mentioned a little sister. Both boys are part of fully intact, happy families. Then there was Ethan, the boy of many parents—four to be exact. “I have two older brudders (as he pronounces it) and one little sister.” No mention that the older ones were technically stepbrothers and the littlest one was a half-sister on his dad’s side. And that made me smile.
Over the last week that conversation has gotten me thinking about the modern day family. You always hear the statistic that 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce. But in my world, I am the only divorced person with kids in all my groups of friends.
My ex, Adam, and I get along better than you can write up in a sitcom. We call each other the best ex-wife or best ex-husband—Best XH or Best XW for short. Put my ex and my boyfriend in a room and I might as well not exist. Need to work Ethan logistics? Adam is basically just a cc on an email between his wife and me. I like to call myself Auntie Thai Phi to Ethan’s little sister. It took a whole lot of work and a massive amount of pride swallowing by all of us, but I’m pretty damn proud of where we are. Our family rolls in a cohort of four happy, goofy parents. Ethan’s got his own cheering section at every event.
Even with all that, you have your dark moments. The “I’ve messed up my kid’s life” feelings. The “My kid doesn’t have one place to call home” thoughts. The “divided family” guilt. But with that little sentence from Ethan about his family, I was reminded that I didn’t divide his family, I grew it. What we have may not be considered the ideal, but it’s special and it’s ours.
A week later, I was driving those same three boys to soccer and I overheard:
“Did you know infinity is not actually a number?”
“What is the last number?”
“Where did I put my sock?”
“Up your butt!”
“Oh that’s right, I forgot I put it up my butt.”
Those 7-year-olds, they’re wise beyond their years.