Whoots of excitement rang through the house, the night I read in email that the Welser’s were coming for a visit. It turns out that Roger had a conference in Seattle during the summer months. Need I say more? This is the opportunity that we had been hoping would happen for the last four years - a chance to catch up, admire our growing families and give our girls, once cribmates, the chance to get reacquainted. Secretly, I think both Karen and I had always hoped that they would become friends, harboring the romantic idea that like cousins, their visits might not be often, but their relationship would become genuine and lasting.
“Wanna play dress-up?”
“I love dress-up!”
“Me too!” ...had the girls off and running toward the appropriate closet giggling and laughing from the start. While entertaining themselves, they discovered that they both have definite opinions about things, with Devi struggling from time to time with use of kind words and the understanding of what it means to have guests, making sharing with yet another girl (other than her sister) seem utterly "unfair" - a term we hear a lot.
Both girls are bright, articulate and competitive, and so throughout the week they managed to learn ways to resolve most of their conflict with little parental intervention, albeit not necessarily fair or sound, it worked for them. When they weren’t a Disney princess (Ariel, Rapunzel or Jasmine come to mind) they often addressed each other as “sister”, or could be caught whispering and sharing secrets. Side by side at our dinner table of nine, Jenya whispered, "Lets count the pink people", which sounded like a good idea to Devi and together they silently acknowledged each pink person's head with a slightly concealed pointed index finger as their lips moved indicating the sum. This brought candid adult laughter, but also was one of the first signs that our girls seem to be aware of their connection, and gladly it appears to go a bit deeper than their obvious physical similarities.
This is not to say that there were not countless challenges considering whose hair was longer, who was taller, and who could dance or sing the best, but both girls understand that they knew each other, cuddling in the same crib, before even meeting their mommy’s, daddy’s and brothers. This thought baffles me as I would think it would be such a hard concept to grasp, but these two beauties seem to possess a healthy amount of self esteem and the facts about how they came to be a Ross or a Welser were discussed openly between them throughout the visit. One conversation had the girls comparing notes, discovering that both families even had to ride an elephant to get to where they lived.
Acting like monkeys!
Another of these candid and precious moments came at the Woodland Park zoo, while the two girls admired a tree kangaroo. The dosset at the exhibit, a grandma to many children herself, engaged the girls asking the obvious, “Are you two twins?” The conversation that proceeded was priceless as the girls eagerly chatted with her. Devi and Jenya, blurted out the facts in tag team fashion describing themselves as Indian princesses, who were 4 and a HALF. They were not born here, but on the other side of the world in India. Fact after fact was spilled and the dosset drank it all in. The exchange was so very cute.
Slumbering together was an impossible task but the girls did manage to have a “Slumber party” of sorts reading books and playing with stuffed animals, all the while jabbering and whispering away on sleeping bags in the playroom. We let them stay up longer than normal, hoping some kind of resting was going on upstairs, before declaring the party over and escorting each of them, yawning and exhausted to their own beds for actual slumber time.
Other highlights were chocolate fondue dessert, dancing together at the farmer’s market, decorating crowns, blowing bubbles and making their own pizzas. The better part of one afternoon was spent shredding grass seed off the weeds in the vacant lot adjacent to our house and carefully laying them in a rectangular Tupperware dish. The collective effort produced the most comfortable fairy nest I’ve ever laid eyes on :).
As for the rest of us, we fell right in step as if we have lived next door to each other for years. Something about our families just clicks. This feeling was all too familiar and reminiscent of our first India trip together. It still strikes me as strange that after casual chatting via email while waiting the 18 months for the referral of our children, we became friends on opposite coasts, not meeting face to face until we were half way around the world at the US Embassy. Once there, we discovered a connection that lead to comfortably booking our hotel rooms with an adjoining door. This same level of comfort was present this trip as we loosely made arrangements for outings and meals with little or no planning with emphasis on just hanging out and catching up. These kinds of friendships come few and far between, and we feel so incredibly blessed to know the Welser family.
Treya took a shine to the Welser men. I say men, because in four years Andrew and Evan have matured into the nicest young and budding teenagers. They've always been polite and respectful, but now you can see the beginnings of the men they will become and it was a delight to converse, tease and laugh with them. Who knew that simply offering chocolate fondue dessert would raise my rank on Andrew's "friend meter" ten points! I suppose it is no surprise then why Treya was so smitten by all three of them, offering hugs of condolences to the loser of a game of pool and finding a very comfortable spot on Mr. Roger’s hip or shoulders for most of their stay, announcing “Up, peas!” as often as she could. Watching her continue to blossom in the presence of friends was so fun as she was coaxed into saying new words making them laugh over some of her mispronunciations and goofy ways.
The boys, Pat and Roger included, took in a Sounders game, thanks to the generosity of a soccer-connected friend of the Welser’s. They also spent an afternoon at the Museum of Flight that had all them chattering away about their favorite planes when they returned. Because our house is very girl oriented, I was concerned that boys would not find anything to do, but they did a great job of entertaining themselves and settling right in, making themselves at home and even helping to keep a watchful eye out for the girls too.
By the end of the visit, Karen and I were both doing double takes, for at a distance it was hard to tell our two 4 year olds apart, who had begun to dress and wear their hair alike. Upside down braids, the talent of Ms. Karen was a huge hit. Their voices and choice of words were even similar. I suppose it should come as no surprise that as their car drove away on our last morning together, there were some tears. Trailing off, amidst the enthusiastic waving, we heard the faint sound of Jenya yelling, “Remember...we are sisters!” and Devi yelling back, “I'm going to miss you, Jenya! I love you, Jenya!”
She was right. We miss you guys all ready and can't wait for another visit!!!!