I've heard that saying many, many times throughout life since the once famed former First Lady Hilary Clinton stated it. It does take a village to raise a child. And I am one of those children, raised by a village.
In Alaska's standards, Kotzebue is technically a CITY...haha. We have 3,500 people give or take, and a land mass of about 1.5 miles by 1 mile, and that's being very generous with our road system here. But, it was all village life for me.
My parents were young and in love when they had me, GASP!, out of wedlock! in 1977, and my dark and beautiful mother was one of nine other children in her family. Her family, who all lived in Kotzebue at the time. Most of the kids still lived at home in the small three bedroom (900 sf at most) home they shared.
If you've read my past posts, I've been feeling quite nostalgic this summer. I don't know if that's my version of a mid-life crisis...but I HOPE I'm not mid-life! I hope that my mid-life crisis doesn't happen until I'm like 50!
I think its just the culmination of JUNK, useless junk that sits outside (and inside) our house. Its the fact that we have close family who sit at home ALL DAY and watch TV. We have kids who don't even know how to get their own cereal, let alone gut a fish. And that is simply unheard of for me.
I feel utterly overwhelmed when I think of the childhood I had compared to my children, or that of other children. I'm a little disgusted at all the crap people (us included) have and continue to BUY for their kids at an alarming speed. Especially since Kotzebue is the MOST EXPENSIVE place to live in the ENTIRE STATE OF ALASKA, why would you continue to buy junk? Prices are NOT going down people.
Anyway, to get back to the point of being raised by a village... (getting off on a tangent there), I had the chance to take care of two special little boys for two weeks. Their grandparents are very close friends of ours. Mom is not in the picture, Dad is in jail and Grandpa works (literally) twenty hours per DAY in the summers, some days not sleeping AT ALL. (He also HUNTS and lets the kids go boating, etc. He caught me my beluga in 2007) And Grandma and two aunts were scheduled for a trip to Hawaii for two weeks of VERY deserved vacation.
The call came in that OCS would take custody of the boys if they could not find a suitable caregiver, one who knows them, and who has a safe home, and most importantly, room for them. After a run around with the State of AK, our local IRA contacted me and Dean and I agreed to take them. The only hesitation I had was that I was scheduled to go to a wedding (in Palmer) during one of the weekends and Dean works 10 hours a day Saturday and Sunday.
When I think of all the things the grandparents have done for us, ALL of it by choice and never having been asked, it was a no decision. I mean, seriously, what's two more kids (age 2 and 3) when you have four (five most of the time) kids, 12 ducks, 2 dogs and 71 first cousins?!
The grandparents have been so selfless and it seemed like there really was no one who was able to help. Aside from ME and my family they have done so much for everyone else too. Just to give you an example, I'll show you what they've done for me in the past few years alone:
* When I was closing on my house and didn't know there were "closing costs" involved, Uncle (that's what we'll call him) came to my house and gave me $10,000 CASH so I could buy the house. He said, "Don't worry about it, you'll pay me back sometime." No questions asked, and in twenty dollar bills from the bank no less.
* When my 3 year old daughter said that she was jealous cause "everyone has a snow-go except me..." Uncle and Auntie came over and gave her a nice new-ish Red Polaris 120 snowmachine. Gave it to her. Seriously.
* When we found out that people were catching Beluga in the sound, and they knew my husband couldn't catch one, he got one, just for us. (And this is a BIG thing, giving away an entire beluga for consumption...I stayed out on the beach for about 10 hours cutting it up...)
* When our water line burst under the house in NEGATIVE thirty below weather, and the only people who could have come wanted a THOUSAND dollar downpayment to come look at it, I called uncle, and he and his brother came over for FIVE hours, fixed the pipe, and replaced the bad parts...crawling under the house, in negative thirty weather, and in a pool of water. And wouldn't take money...so Dean made him a knife.
I mean...these are just a FEW of the things that they've done for us in the past years.
I honestly feel like they deserve more than a two week vacation. They're just great people once you crack the shell! So...we are taking care of two little boys. Repaying my Village Raising and in a SuperNanny way!!!
I have to say, having them is MUCH easier than I thought and they've forced us on a schedule...to maintain both a sense of sanity for myself and enough sleep for the night!
Thankfully, its the middle of summer here, so playing out is a simple act of putting on shoes (or sometimes NOT according to Nubby) and going outside to jump on the trampoline or chase ducks back into their pen. They get a bath every night, and its a way to unwind, clean the mosquito dope off them, and relax them before bed, and they get "night dessert" every night too. (A long standing tradition in our family)
My husband's having a blast with two little boys around. There is lots of wrestling, splashing, throwing things, and running. Its been over 10 years since we had a little boy running around! Every child we've fostered has been a little girl, so its definitely different, but fun!
Tonight, my 7 year old niece will come over and help me "babysit" (i.e. jump on the trampoline, fetch diapers, get thrown balls) as a way to make money for her Hawaii trip soon! I'm paying her $10 a night to help!
So, I'll leave you today to think about what you've done for other people and how people have helped you in the past.
Its the Eskimo way...that's how we roll!