Someday, some evil-minded kid will offer John a cigarette or a beer when he’s thirteen years old, or suggest that he “borrow” my car when he’s fourteen. And I’ll search for a link to this long-forgotten blog and comment on my own post, cursing my ten-years-ago ignorance of the dangers of going along with the crowd. But for the moment, peer pressure feels like the best thing that’s happened to me all summer.
We’re just back from a week in at the beach with a bunch of family, including five of John’s cousins, ranging in age from three to eleven. Fortunately for my siblings and I, the eleven year old is both mature and kind (i.e. willing to play with the little ones) and the three year old is totally fearless (a non-swimmer, yet her favorite thing is having waves go over her head). Thanks to them, the distance between the littlest and biggest ends of this group is not quite as far apart as they might otherwise be. All in all, they’re a happy, laughing, agreeable pack, and we all love watching them together.
And here’s the especially good news for me: John’s so impressed with The Cousins (he says that like it’s a proper noun) that he’s willing to go along with just about anything they do. Occasionally that means a lot of squealing and running around very early in the morning. But much more often, it means that John’s world grows when he’s with them. John ate his broccoli — in total and with no discussion — for three meals in a row, which never happens. I think some other, less familiar vegies snuck in as well. At the beginning of the week, he was a little bit afraid of the ocean. By the end of the week with The Cousins, he was on a boogie board riding the waves. Over the course of the week, you could just see him becoming more independent and brave, and I love that. He always tells me that he wishes The Cousins lived closer, and I do, too.
Unfortunately, these particular cousins live in North Carolina and Alabama, so we’re not all together as much as I’d like. But next year, I think I’ll head to South Carolina with a specific list of things to try to persuade John to do while we’re there. And by that I mean: a specific list of things to get his cousins to persuade him to do. They’re very effective and I have confidence that with their help, John will continue to leap ahead. Just remind me to keep a closer eye on them once they’re all teenagers.