...which, sadly, will not be serving beef jerky, nachos or hot dogs. By the time lunch is served, I will be long gone, banished from the premises by the hostess, for good reason. My presence would be risky since, while I might be helpful in a pinch, the chance that I might say or do something embarrassing far outweigh any help I might be able to offer. So, my dismissal is just one more example of my wife’s excellent strategic planning skills.
The guest of honor will be the former Jessica Stroup, now Jessica Rodriguez. This will be her first child. When she and her husband arrived here Thursday evening, the sight of her...pregnant... placed a surprising lump in my throat. This young woman has been a staple in the Dunnevant house for over 25 years. We met her and her parents serendipitously at a nursery school open house when she was probably 4 or 5 years old, discovered that they lived just down the street from us, and soon a lifelong friendship was born between her and my daughter, her and my son, and her family and ours. 25 years later, after a hundred sleepovers, a thousand meals together, a couple dozen concerts, road trips, vacations and assorted adventures great and small, this little blond girl walks into my house...adorably pregnant. Where did the years go?
When you become lifelong friends with an entire family, you literally help raise their kids just as they help raise yours. This is one of the great benefits of living your life in one community instead of adopting the life of the nomad, chasing new jobs and new opportunities every which way the wind blows. When you put down roots, it allows for the development of deep bonds between families. When there are other adults who you know and can trust with your kids, it makes it easier to be a better parent yourself. There are a small group of other kids who start to feel like your own. You become protective of them, start to love them...as if they were your own. Even after they grow up and move away and become fully functioning adults, get married, and start having their own kids, and even after months and even years go by when you don’t see them, all they have to do is show up at your house for a baby shower...and it all comes rushing back. It’s really a quite beautiful thing.