When Having Kids is the Greatest Thing in the World

We were down in New York with Alastair’s parents over the weekend, and yesterday I went to a friend’s baby shower (as mentioned in this recent post) in Connecticut en route back to Boston.

Toward the end of the event, after all the presents were opened and endless stories of pregnancy and birth and babies were told, my friend commented, very wisely, that as exciting as it all was,”this” — the pregnancy, the build-up, the birth, etc. — wasn’t really what having a kid was all about. It was about the long-term; the relationship and interaction with your kids and the way your lives shape one another’s. Sort of like the way a wedding isn’t the same thing as a marriage.

An hour or two after the shower, as were driving back up to Boston, I struck up a game of Twenty Questions (or however many it takes) to help keep Elsa and Clio occupied in the car. Category: animals.

I thought of an animal first. We had to give them a lot of help coming up with questions, and for some reason they got it in their heads that I’d picked a penguin. So they kept asking thing like: Does this animal like snow? Is this animal small and black and white? Is this animal a bird that can’t fly? But once we got them off the penguin kick, they got it. Sort of.

And then it was Elsa’s turn to pick an animal. It went something like this:

Alastair: Is it bigger than a bug?

Elsa: No!

Alastair: OK, so it’s the same size as a bug? Or smaller?

Elsa: Well, actually, it’s a little bigger than a bug.

Me: Does it live in the jungle?

Elsa: (excited) Yes!

Clio: Does it live in the water?

Elsa: (Even more excited) Yes! It lives in the water in the jungle!

Me: Hmm…lives in the jungle, and in the water….Does it go hop, hop, hop?

Elsa: (Unbelievably excited) Yes!! You guessed it!  It’s a Kangaroo!!

My friends, I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard. I literally had tears streaming down my face. I was in the driver’s seat, and it’s a wonder I didn’t rear-end anyone. (Especially since we were merging from I-91 onto I-84 on the Charter Oak Bridge in Hartford and it’s always bumper to bumper, you know?)

For the rest of the day, right through to lying in bed at night, whenever I thought of it I started giggling. What really made it was Elsa’s tone — so excited and confident; she was clearly having the time of her life.

We asked her if she’d changed the animal she was thinking of at the last minute. “You know that kangaroos don’t live in the jungle, or in the water, right?” we said. (Not to mention the fact that they are, in fact, much bigger than bugs.) “Yeah, I know,” she said, “I was making a big joke!”

I don’t know whether she was actually making a joke or not. It would be more her style just to keep thinking of new animals every step along the way. In the jungle? Yeah! That sounds cool! Hopping? Yes! Wait, what hops…?

But that’s all beside the point. The real point is, to my friend Heather’s point, that this is what it’s all about: Laughing yourself silly in the car with your kids on the way home over amphibious pygmy Kangaroos.

It really doesn’t get much better.

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