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Sunday, January 31, 2010

It takes a village

After another whirlwind week, I was reflecting on the variety of experiences the Hill family takes part in on a regular basis. I kept thinking of the old adage, "It takes a village to raise a child." It really got me thinking about what our village looks like and what kind of impact it has on our boys.

For example we had two family events this week that are probably at opposite ends of the activity spectrum. On Wednesday night we had dinner with Uncles Aaron and Jack. These two are some of our favorite village inhabitants. Connor is crazy about these two uncles and for pretty good reason. They are way classier than his parents, first of all. Their house is always neat and their furniture is never sticky. To say they are world travelers is an understatement and they make it a point to think about the boys in all of their high flying adventures. Connor has quite the collection of Euros and his own fake passport. If he ever needs to flee the country in a hurry, he is all set. They help us infuse his life with a little culture and are the cool uncles that take him to museums. (This is probably a shock to some of you to find out that Matt and I don't hang out in museums all the time or ever.) Because of Uncle Aaron and Uncle Jack, Connor and Hudson both own clothes from H&M, a feat their mother has yet to accomplish :) They are also our social conscience, do-gooders to an annoying degree (sorry guys). Because of them, Connor knows all about "wecycling" and "veterinawians" (the kind that eat only vegetables, not the animal doctors.) They are fun uncles that will spend their dinner time engineering an official AA airplane glider and doing endless test flight until Mom finally calls an end to the fun. They help my boys see that there is a lot more to the world than what we see here in Rowlett, Texas. Granted, Connor has repeatedly tried to pay for his kolatches at the donut shop with a pocketful of Euros, but hey, he will need them someday. Uncle Aaron suggested he try at La Madeliene, but I think that fake French people are going to be much less forgiving than he thinks.

After that low key, classy dinner with the Uncles, we immediately ran down to the other end of the village spectrum and went to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo with my dad. It was a whole different type of culture. Connor and Hud got totally decked out in full cowboy gear, which was right up Connor's alley since it was, essentially, a costume. This is not mine and Matt's scene by any stretch of the imagination, but we are resolved (or resigned, in this case) to let our kid's experience as much of life as possible. My dad is the quintessential cowboy, and is always proud to have his grandkids dressed as tiny versions of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Matt and I just wore our regular clothes, in case you were wondering. To appreciate my dad, you would have to be a fan of John Wayne. In fact, over the last year I have been reading several books (The Shack, The 5 People You Meet in Heaven and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven) and coincidentally, all three are similar in that when the characters get to Heaven they are all surprised to see that the people in Heaven take on familiar shapes of loved ones or people they highly respected. For my Dad, the person greeting him in Heaven would have to be The Duke. My dad's influence on the boys teaches them about being tough and brave. Connor was intent on watching and observing every bit of the rodeo. He desperately wants to be thrown off bulls and then he wants to put on his Stetson and ride them again. This is a lesson I don't think Matt and I could have taught him, and certainly not in that dramatic fashion. Pop, against my better judgement, once put a two year old Connor on a very slow moving mechanical bull and convinced him to ride his full eight seconds with one hand up. The rodeo is a life experience that, despite being a complete parade of some of life's most bizarre oddities, serves to show my kids that there is a uniqueness and richness to life that I hope they embrace, even if it is out of their comfort zone. Plus, you get to wear a totally wicked awesome belt buckle.

There are a lot more people in our village that influence our kids regularly, but these two events just stood out in my mind today because they were so completely different from each other and yet they both have an impact on helping grow my boys into good and decent men. Plus,we did all this in one 4 day time period. They are two lucky little boys to have so many unique people that care about them and want to help guide them through life. Now, that isn't to say that we all don't take a turn as village idiot or that we aren't all just a little crazy, because it's pretty safe to say that we are, but since we're all in it together we just might keep the village from burning down.

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