Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ally and Joshua (and Third-Wheel Luke), sittin' in a tree ...

Hey. This is Ryan. I just wanted to share what was in my inbox yesterday. Ever since Lisha was pregnant with Ally, I've subscribed to They send you e-mail updates of the normal phases of where your child should be developmentally. Here's what it said about Ally: "Many 8-year-olds love to talk. Consider this evidence of their rapidly developing brain. You get a window into what they're thinking about, and they gain the benefits of a language workout. Sometimes you might wish for a little quiet – but the typically taciturn teen years will come all too soon. Meantime, appreciate this verbal agility for the sign of advancement that it is."

Well, duh.

But, here's the real story for today.

We had a great extended weekend at Yellowstone National Park last week. Lisha's college roommate/best friend, Mary Anne, along with her family were passing through on their way home to Fort Collins, Colo., and decided to swing through Idaho Falls to "do something." We were excited they decided to extend the mileage of their trip because they are so great and we love them like family. Together, Lish and Mary came up with the idea to go to Yellowstone, which is about three hours away. We love that area and wanted to go camping. Lisha's other best friend, Jen, with whom she grew up and was roommates with as well, lives in town, too. They all wanted to do something together. But Jen and her husband own a cabin near Yellowstone, so of course, Jen offered the cabin.

Are you still with me?

Let me tell you about Jen and Edwin. They are the nicest, most humble, most down-to-Earth people you will ever meet. Lisha grew up with her as they lived just down the road and attended the same church and everything. They were very close all growing up. Upon graduating from Poky High School, they decided to room together at Ricks College. That's where they met Mary Anne. They became even closer and have remained that way throughout the years.

I met Jen and Edwin when we were married. I instantly liked/respected Edwin. He is one of the most spiritual and grounded people I have ever met. He's also a doctor. When I met them, we were all in college and poor. We had babies close to the same time, too. Joshua was born two months before Ally. It was fun for us to compare their progress. Except they could not have been more opposite. While Ally was a petite, dainty little girl, Joshua was a monster baby - all fat rolls and chub. He was so cute. And huge. We used to put them together and giggle at the baby versions of Jabba the Hutt and Princess Leia. (Well, I did because I'm a 16-year-old in my brain. But, seriously, this baby was enormous!)

When we moved back to Idaho Falls, we reacquainted ourselves with Jen and Edwin and their family. Our families had both grown - we have four kids and they have five - but our friendship has never been better. Joshua still is big (tall, in the 97th percentile) while Ally is still petite (in the seventh percentile for height).

We couldn't have had a better time with our three families. None of our kids fought (that's huge!) and we gave into the kids' begging and switched kids and cars while we drove through the park without too much of an incident. We took Joshua, who took a seat in the back of our van next to Ally, while Luke stayed in the middle bench by Clark. They marvelled at bison, elk, a coyote and bald eagles next to our car and anxiously scanned the forest and plains for a glimpse of an elusive grizzly bear. (We never saw one, but it was fun just to look.)

When the animals were scarce, the two eight-year-olds chatted it up in the alleged privacy of the back seat as Luke tried to contribute his four-year-old views on life as well. While Lish grabbed a quick nap next to me, I decided to try and hear what these two were talking about. I have to admit, I got a little sad while I listened to them. They were having an actual conversation. I don't know what I expected to hear. I mean, they've outgrown any discussion of the latest Elmo's World episode and, "What's-your-favorite-color-I-like-cheese" talk. But, their conversation was so, I don't know, grown up. Well, grown-up kid talk. It mostly consisted of Joshua telling Ally and Luke how good he is at everything. (That made me laugh. Especially when he told them his basketball skills were equal to a young Kobe Bryant.) But what really made me laugh was when I really focused on what they were saying whilst looking in the rearview mirror to capture all the nonverbal cues, as well. Here's the conversation as I started to listen in:

"Come on," Ally pleaded as Joshua smiled shyly. "Just tell me the name of your girlfriend!"

"Noooo," he answered, suddenly scanning the forest edge for anything to distract Ally from her question. "I don't really want to. It's private."

"You can tell me," she continued. "I won't tell your mom. I promise."

"Dude. Dude. Dude," Luke interrupted. (Yes, my son says "dude." Just like his dad.) "Tell me, OK? I won't tell Ally." Luke looks up to Joshua and it's a major competition between him and Ally to whom will dominate Joshua's time and attention.

"Turn around, Luke!" I yelled, worried I would put a halt to the conversation because I was just as interested to hear as the other two.

Josh turned away again, but smiled as his face went red. In an effort to appease the two Hansen reporters, he said and grinned, "OK, OK. I'll tell you the first letter." Then he blushed even more.

This seemed to satisfy Luke and Ally because they started bouncing up and down, waiting to hear the letter of the mystery girl. I was interested, too. "It's 'A,'" he said and went a shade of red I bet even Crayola had never heard of. He started studying his hands.

Silence. Awkward silence. Ally's face flushed to the exact same color. Luke looked confused and wondered what could possibly start with "A" other than "apple" and "alligator."

Ally said what I was thinking while I discovered my heart had to be racing just as fast as her heart. But the look on her face was priceless. She got this serious look on her face and her voice dropped as she said, "I think I know who it is!"

I couldn't hold it in any longer. I started chuckling watching this third-grade soap opera in the back of a Grand Caravan. I also got butterflies just as I imagine Ally had, too. It was the cutest thing to witness.

Josh must have gotten nervous because then he blurted out, "The next letter is 'M!'"

Ally's expression went from lovestruck to dumbstruck and then, in a wild attempt to figure out her rival, started guessing names that could possibly belong to his "girlfriend." "Amber. It's Amber? Amber, right? Wait. Kamber. Is it Kamber? Do you know a Kamber? Who's Kamber?"
"I said it started with an 'A,'" Josh teased, now fully aware he was in control of the situation once again.

Joshua led her on a little more and I turned my attention back to the road. I woke Lish up to tell her what had just happened, but she mumbled something and tipped her head back to sleep.

And that was it. Dramatic scene played out. The rest of the weekend, the two played so well together. They played card games, rode bikes together and fished together. Joshua was always extra sweet to Ally - teaching her to cast a fishing line or (this was scary) how to turn on and drive a four wheeler. (We caught them before they actually shifted into gear!) We four parents would just sit back at certain moments and watch the sweetness play out. I know! They are only eight years old, but it was still so cute!

The final thing that sealed the deal and, in our minds, set the betrothal, was when we went to an ice cream parlor in West Yellowstone. We decided that we would all pair up and share ice cream sundaes. Instantly, Josh and Ally grabbed each other to buddy up and share. They sat together, alone in a booth, and shared their sundaes. I caught Jen and Edwin watching the two kids with stars in their eyes and remarking how cute they were together. Lish and I then looked over to see Ally and Joshua talking and sharing and eating ice cream, which led to our own, "Ooooh, so cute!"

So, I don't know. It's the first time I've seen Ally in "friend love." Yes, once again ... I know she's only eight. But if you would have seen it, you would have been as gaga as we were. It made me wonder if I treat my wife like that anymore. I mean, do you remember the first weeks, months, whatever when you and your true love were just gaga over each other? We've been married nine wonderful years. But nine years and life tends to de-gaga you.

I think of our conversations back then - dreams, hopes, "you're so awesome and cute and fun." I remember looking in Lisha's eyes and thinking, "Dang, I can see eternity. And eternity is fine!" Do we still have that? I look into Lisha's eyes now and think, "Which kid will die if I don't intervene?" Our conversations now consist of, "Whose turn is it to clean the barf out of the carpet?" and "So-and-so called and if we don't pay such-and-such bill, it will go to collections."

I say it's time to go into crush mode again. Tonight I have an opportunity to go to the new Harry Potter film with my amazing wife. Here's my goal: I will NOT talk about puke, poop, bills and daily minutia that would make teenagers roll their eyes and escape into iPodLand. I will, however, go back to the "Dang, girl, you so hot" and "Let's talk about our hopes and dreams."

Ally and Josh taught me a great lesson last weekend. Don't let life suck away the eight-year-old puppy love from your relationship. Or else life will just suck.


Jill said...

Well said, Ryan.

I have to admit something. Even "friend love" scares the crap out of me. I do not look forward to the real thing in a few years or so.

I had a friend tell me last night that she's been watching Scott and I and we are flirty. It made me happy. I feel like we too slip into the parent zone and don't remember why we got engaged after 3 weeks of knowing each other and were married 2 months after that. :)

Thanks for the reminder.
Oh, and have so much fun at HP. We must talk later.

Shelley~Maren said...

Another great post Ryan. :) You write so well! I'll be a little sad when you stop being Mr. Mom when school starts back up again. I mean, sure Lisha might let you post, but being a "mom" for the summer gives you lots of insight you may or may not have during the school year. Or I'm completely off-base, and have not a clue what I'm talking about. ;)

Loved the post though! Ally & Josh are cute!

Shanakin Skywalker said...

While you guys were dating, did you make out at every red light? And then did you also hide in her basement and sleep on the couch, and then in the morning go ring the doorbell like you were just arriving again to trick her parents the next day instead of going home just because the thought of spending those hours apart from each other was painful? OR was that just us? : ) (Hey, remember when you and I were watching a video and my future husband arrived and booted you out!? Hahahahah. Good times.)

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