One of my favorite aspects of home education is having the opportunity to really know our children's friends. Not just their friends, but the families of these friends. We know the people, their homes, their values, their struggles, their hopes. We know that we are all different, but very alike in our desire to do the best we can for our children. We trust each other.
Oh, to know these kids! We remember when the younger siblings were babies and toddlers. We celebrated new babies being born. We hear the first words of the little ones and remember when they needed to be pushed on swings and caught at the bottom of slides. We look back to when so many of the children were turning six years old and what a magical year that was (and how worried we all were about reading); now that group of kids are all turning twelve (and they read, each of them getting there at their own time and in their own way). Twelve! We watch them grow physically, but also emotionally. We see the maturation of the oldest kids as they become teenagers, young men and women.
We go to birthday parties and feel comfortable with the adults and stay too long because the kids don't want to be parted, even if they will see each other again in just a few days. We promise them extra play dates just to get them out the door. We feel renewed and exhausted at the same time.
I pick up a child for a play date and know that my friend will get an hour or two of peace and quiet while her little one naps. I send the children back by having them walk the 3/4 mile and see the joy on their faces at the independence they have earned. I get some peace as well, even if I don't get any quiet; the sound of laughter is a reward as well.