We've had a neighborhood boy turning up on our doorstep every day after school. The kids are barely off the bus and in the door when David comes knocking.
I have posted before about the minor annoyance that friends can sometimes bring to our family dynamic. How other parents sometimes will dump their kid at your house, leaving you to provide entertainment. And how the new playmate sometimes disrupts the otherwise cohesive sibling playtime.
Well, David is no such kid.
David is a shy, skinny, blond-haired little boy. He does not rifle my pantry in search of treats. When my boys are begging him to play video games or watch TV, he is instead suggesting Legos and pretend play. He does not play with only one of my children at a time, but instead includes all three - even the Princess. (And I'll admit it, there are a lot of days that EVEN I don't want to be bossed around by the Princess). But David takes it all in with a smile. Nobody is odd-man-out when David comes to play.
And my kids just ADORE him. They beg to have him stay for dinner. They hate when it's time for him to go home. They would have him move in permanently, I'm sure. And with his polite manners and quiet demeanor, I just might consider taking him.
I've attributed his enjoyment of our family to the fact that his only sibling is a 15-year-old sister, who is probably not very interested in Legos and scooters. I've thought that my boys and their rambunctious nature must be the big draw for David. And that might be all it is.
But tonight, we learned a little more about our friend David. He was staying for dinner. Asking politely for seconds, waiting his turn, and complimenting me on my fine cooking skills (which let's be honest, very few people in this house ever do). Chase happened to ask him what time his Mom and Dad get home from work every day. David said his Mom gets home at five and his Dad? Well, his Dad passed away.
I could barely keep back the tears as we gently told him how sorry we were.
Cancer. About a year ago is all.
And suddenly, this shy, sweet little boy seemed so much older for his age. He's experienced more than a ten-year-old boy ever should. No child should know the heartache of mortality. He lives every day knowing just how fragile life is. How someone you love can be taken from you, whether you like it or not. My heart just ached for this little boy and what his family has been through.
Later, as I was tucking McKay in bed, he had tears in his eyes as he told me he could not imagine losing his Dad. You know what, Buddy? I can hardly imagine it either.
And so today, we will hug our Dad just a little bit tighter.
And tomorrow, we'll play with David, just like we do every day. Only this time, we'll understand maybe why he's so shy. And we'll not mind that he knocks right after the bus passes. Because his house is probably too quiet.
And ours is everything but.