At the tail end of my recently-completed research trip (on which more later) I stopped off to visit my cousin, Heather, who lives in Mosbach, somewhere between Wolfenbüttel and Tübingen (I have vague ideas of German geography, but mostly I just change trains and disembark where they tell me to). She and her husband, Georg, have two lovely children, Kathryn — almost three — and David, one.
I had a fantastic time staying with Heather’s family.
There is, first of all, the simple pleasure in spending time with people fluent in English who speak to you in English. More importantly is the joy of spending time with family, with people you’ve basically known forever and with whom is an intangible connection that, when you consider how infrequently I’ve seen a lot of my cousins, runs deeper than you would really expect. So there was much to talk about, since we’d not seen each other since Jonathan’s wedding in 2005 — almost 8 years ago!
These facts alone, combined with Mosbach’s lovely Innenstadt (I do love mediaeval buildings so!), would have secured a happy few days off from the pressing demands of manuscript collation and Latin translation.
But there was also something great and fun about playing with Kathryn and David. Kathryn was very excited to pick up Uncle Matthew from the train. Trains are exciting regardless (of course), and I proved to be a great hit. And, on the first day there, we spent a considerable amount of time running about in the back yard, Kathryn calling out, ‘Catch me, catch me!’
I inevitably would, of course. I’m several times her size, after all. Then tickling or picking her up upside down would ensue. Good fun for all.
This was to be the next morning’s entertainment as well.
I helped out Heather a bit — I have no clue how people are capable of taking care of two children of such ages alone (and so I marvel at our mothers!!). One of the pleasures was also just standing there in the yard as Kathryn went on talking about something, the nature of which usually escaped me, but very often involving Gruffaloes.
We went about town, did errands, visited the Frühlingsfest (spring fair). Sure, Kathryn spent a lot of the time trying to do things she wasn’t supposed to. But she also spent a lot of the time behaving. And there was a simple happiness in a lot of it. Who wouldn’t want a big, colorful tube of candy, after all?
So much fun was had by Kathryn.
David is also a lovely child. Teetering along, unsteady yet but capable as he walks about, he is amusing. He’s young enough that if you can redirect him from where he should be, he usually finds something else to occupy him. He’s teething, so there is a constant waterfall cascading from his mouth. Somehow it works as cute. Probably because he’s only one year old. If I were to constantly drool on everyone, it would get old fast.
He enjoys balls and riding a toy car in the back porch and riding the inflatable donkey — although apparently this last tends to end up with bouncing onto the paved surface below. So that’s not good.
David also enjoyed some of my silly faces, always a good thing. And sometimes he would just smile so big and happy, how could anyone not smile back?
I know there are challenges to raising kids, and I saw some of the challenges Heather and Georg face in bringing up Kathryn and David. But there are joys, and there is just such abundance of life and love in these kids and this home, how could one not find there a refuge from the worries of life?
I’ve only known Kathryn and David for a few days, but they are fantastic, and I love them dearly. And when I think on that fact, that these children not my own whom I have known for so short a time and love so much, I cannot but shudder at what sort of human being would dare harm a child, dare harm such beautiful specimens of humanity and joy and happiness and the simplicity we grown-ups wish we had. That is a scary thought.
But these two are safe, in a wonderful, loving home with loving, caring parents who are involved in their lives and wish to see them prosper and grow and live healthy, happy lives. I wish Heather and Georg all the best as they raise their delightful, little handsful.
And in case my mom is wondering, there will be pictures. 😉