Pike Place. Touristy. Crowded. Never really changes.
Yet, every year we find ourselves walking down that steep hill towards the market even though some years we think about skipping it. Sometimes Pike Place is too hectic with little kids. Not so easy pushing a stroller through the crowds when they were younger, and more recently, it’s sometimes hard to see them in a sea of people if you momentarily lose grip of their hand. Last year Mark and I even walked around by ourselves while the kids stayed with grandma and had the best leisurely time, but maybe 2 years in between visits for the kids is long enough for some things to change because we had a great morning at the market with the girls. They were more interested in going into all the little stores on the lower levels, looking at the dahlias, sampling some food. The young, 20 something guy at one of the cheese stands even told us that the girls were by far the most polite kids he had seen in a long time. They asked for samples, said thank you and wanted to know where they could dispose of their toothpicks. I looked around me and said “really??”. Not that I didn’t believe him, and Mark gave him a knowing nod since he deals with kids who come to his table at the Flea grabbing handfuls of samples and running off and such, but it was a reminder that yeah…maybe we’re doing something right even if it sometimes feels like we’re not.
The thing is, the girls are at a point in their relationship right now where they bring out the best AND the worst out of each other when they’re together. If there was ever a time where it felt like us against them, this would be it. Separately apart, they’re like different personalities, but when they’re together they gain the confidence to be a little more defiant, a little less responsive when disciplined, always pushing the boundaries of how far they can push. I think this might be the hardest part of parenting – keeping your frustrations in check (as was the case today when we took a family shopping trip to Fairway). Nothing and no one has tested my patience more and I always thought I was a patient person pre-kids, but I’ve now realized that I’m not as patient as I once thought. Having kids certainly has a way of holding up a mirror firmly in place so you can’t escape some aspects of your personality that you’d rather ignore. But like a lot of things in life, you all jump in it together and learn along the way. I think that’s why I stopped reading parenting books a long time ago; every situation, every family dynamic, and every child is different. When there are days when you think you’re not doing such a great job because you spend too much time dwelling on the things that aren’t going so well, a random stranger can look at the situation from the outside and make an observant comment to reign it all back in. We’re doing ok.