December 24, 2011 - 8:19 PM
I want to welcome a new friend into my life this holiday season. Kevin Smith was born yesterday at 12:05 pm to my wonderful next-door neighbors. This family has been a wonderful part of my life for years, and includes the only young children who are a real part of my life. Kevin's two big sisters, Katherine (5 years old) and Kaitlin (3 years old) are so important to my life in Colorado (as are their parents). I am thrilled to welcome a new member of their family into the world, and into my life.
I'm not much of a "little kids" kind of girl, in general. University life doesn't offer much in the way of children, and my babysitting years faded quickly when I found other forms of employment (including pet sitting. If we're being brutally honest, I generally prefer dogs to children). But these kids are my neighbors, and are as endearing and as engaging as any little kids can possibly be. I have been increasingly honored and delighted to be a friend and playmate, and to spend time listening to their made-up stories, watching them tear around the yard or climb the trees, playing chasing games or doll house, and generally watch these future powerful women negotiate a 5 and 3 year-old world.
In the summers, Brett will walk over to our adjoining side fence and offer us some new wine I've found, while the little girls call for us to come play. Two years ago, the whole gang came to Oregon for a vacation, and I met them in Corvallis for a day at the Farmer's Market.
Even being over to see the new baby was almost as much about wine, cheese, travel stories, and playing with the little girls.
This family, more than any of the other great neighbors and old family friends, has remained an important part of my college life. It's hard to maintain those friendships as focuses change and more and more holidays and school breaks have been taken in Oregon. I'm still very close with three friends from my Colorado life, but dozens of others have faded out over my years in Eugene. I guess that's just part of growing up.
Anyway, hanging out with this family and their little kids makes me think again about change and the way the world shifts. They're going to grow up in the same neighborhood I did. They'll be on the swim team, and spend time playing with the neighbor kids climbing trees and playing night games in the green belt. They go to the same church I grew up in: they'll do choir, and youth group, and have great adult friends looking after them their whole lives.
And despite these similarities, these three neighbor friends are going to grow up completely different than I am, with the perspective of a new generation.
It's an important reminder, here at the end of another year. What will the world look like when these kids are my age? What are we creating to shelter and protect them, and to help them lead full, free, and safe lives? What are we destroying that they will never have a chance to love?
I guess that I'm saying that part of why I want to do work to protect people and to make this world a somewhat better and more just place is in the knowledge that a generation will come after me, and that we are responsible for the world they inherit.
So Katherine, Kaitlin, and Kevin, as always I am so happy to be your friend. And I promise to do what I can in this world with you in mind, and that I'll use all the joy and trust you've placed in me to do my best, always.