What I figured would be a quick hey-how-ya-doin' visit with my cousin Steph and her family, who now live in town -- quick because I was sure they'd have plans, plus I was an unannounced visitor so I wouldn't want to impose on them -- turned into a couple of hours of hanging out. Including a walk to the park with their mellow dog Rufus, where we ran around a dog-walk area. Yes, we: I ran, and Rufus and a couple other dogs happily chased me. I had enough energy post-blood donation for that! And afterwards I joined them on a walk to and from the co-op where they get groceries. I carried one of the bags of food. Being useful is fun. Then a little more hanging out, then I headed home with a stop at a Safeway to buy TriMet tickets that I'll use next month.
It was quiet hanging out, because Paul, Steph's husband, is a nurse on one of those insane nurses' schedules. He was asleep wearing ear plugs the whole time I was there, so I visited with Steph and their daughter Eloisa.
Ah: the different pace of life when you have a 5-year-old. I've rarely been around 5-year-olds, except when I was a 5-year-old. I haven't made any kids, but if I had, I'd at least have built up to having a 5-year-old. Obviously Steph's used to it. (So's Paul, but, again, he was sleeping needed sleep. That's more important than my unplanned visit.) Visiting with Eloisa meant I walked slower, talked more clearly, and listened more carefully. Kids deserve to have attention paid to them, and they deserve that to be on their terms more than on adults' terms.
I also found myself finding little "teachable moments," where I could say something affirming that, I hope, encourages her in a good way. "I like walking in Portland," I said on our way to the park. "Portland's a good place to walk." Walking's important to me; I hope it can be important to her. It could be; her parents like to hike, but to have other people say they like it also helps. And on the way back from the co-op, Eloisa told her mom that she had something to tell her in her ear. Knowing that meant "privacy, please," I backed off discreetly while they had their private moment. Respect: I can do that, and she deserves that.
Nice kid; nice family. I'm glad they're part of mine.