It's late on Tuesday evening and I'm just unwinding a bit after arriving home late this afternoon from our driving trip to Alberta. What a great overall experience it was. When I asked Matthew in the final stretch of our drive this afternoon what had been his favourite part of the trip, he thought about it and then said (with a lovely smile reaching right up to his eyes): "being with you, Mom - you're my best friend." Regardless how I feel about my child wanting me to be his friend, his comment was precious to me and beautiful to hear. We did have a lovely time together. There were virtually no meltdowns (by either Matthew or me!) and we just got along, for the most part. He was a great traveller (helped by the portable DVD player, audio books on CD, crafts and considerably more junk food than he's used to!) and was cheerful most of the time.
Matthew said that his next favourite things were seeing Mrs. Shelley and her nine-year-old boy T (I'll use his initial to preserve a bit of anonymity, given that he's a child). And indeed, Matthew and T got along really well. Though there's a four-year age difference, they seemed to forge a friendship based on several common interests, notably: their desire to talk and ask questions; their interest in creating mixtures ("potions") in the sink with common household ingredients; their love of dancing to Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"; their zest for Wii games (almost an entirely new experience for Matthew); and watching movies. I was delighted by how well they got along...who can't benefit from a good friendship?
I have been blessed in my life (past and present) with wonderful girlfriends. Thus, for me, in addition to having an adventure with Matthew for the past ten days (even sharing a bed with my wiggly five-year-old who has remarkably sharp, pointy toes), my hands-down favourite part of the trip was spending time with Shelley - I think we spent all five evenings together yacking away (in addition to seeing one really bad movie - "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" - please, it was terrible!). Shelley and I got to know each other way back in late 1998 when we were both still living in the greater Vancouver area and attending the same church. We were close during most of our remaining years there, and have stayed close since our moves to Winnipeg and Calgary in mid-2005. Though we don't get to see each other that much anymore, email and telephone, along with an occasional visit, make ours an easy friendship to pick up. She has been hugely supportive of me during tough times and I have learned much from her. More than most people in my life, Shelley just seems to 'get' me; I've sometimes thought that she must have some kind of special dispensation from God about me, and I shake my head sometimes at how able she is to understand me...often better than I understand myself! I hope I can be something like that for her, too - she is very dear to me. At any rate, spending time with her was the highlight of the trip for me; there is nothing like connecting with a beloved friend!