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Saturday, January 31, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 24.0° F  Overcast
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Mama Madison: Other children's parents
They prove that it takes a village....

I was running late as usual last week, this time to "Museum Day" at my son's middle school. While hustling up to the door, I bumped in to an acquaintance whose daughter was in the same class. We made small talk, late parent to late parent, and he asked me how the medieval castle, my son's exhibit for the "museum," turned out.

Sheepishly, I told him the truth. I hadn't even seen it yet.

This week's post is respectfully dedicated to some of the most important people in my life -- other children's parents. No, I hadn't yet seen the fabulous cardboard manor replete with working drawbridge and painstakingly executed moat because the entire thing had been built at my son's buddy's house, under the careful watch of his buddy's parents. It is their house that is now likely coated with castle-appropriate grey exterior paint. This other child's dad yielded the glue gun and helped the boys create the portcullis, barbican and murder holes. This boy's mom drove the project to school, careful not to break any of the delicate towers. My only contribution was quietly showing up last Friday to check out the dizzying display of castles, catapults and obscure medieval musical instruments. I didn't even remember my camera; I am now dependent on other children's parents for a record of the event.

The mom who helped to engineer the castle said she and her husband didn't mind that their house served as the studio. She insists they enjoyed having my son over at their place just about every day after school for two weeks straight and that the boys pretty much pulled the whole castle off on their own. And I believe her. But in no way does that diminish how incredibly grateful (and in debt, both emotional and I'm sure financial -- castle-making doesn't come cheap) I am to her for helping my child feel like a social studies success.

This is hardly the only example of the difference other parents have made in my children's lives. It is entirely possible my oldest son has spent more waking hours at his friends' houses this year than he has at ours. He is eating other children's parent's food, and using up valuable couch real estate during other people's family movie nights. This same son will be going on vacation with another friend's family later this summer. And it's not for the first time.

Other children's parents have taken my kids in after school when I am running late from work and have helped them prepare for Book Bowls. They have bandaged skinned knees and elbows. There is no way my oldest would have been ready to anchor the baseline of Blitzkrieg Bop at the fifth-grade talent show without hours of insanely loud practice at other people's houses. These special people have used their talents, interests, and infinite patience to make life richer and better for my children.

Yes, Hillary Clinton was right, It Takes a Village -- medieval or otherwise. And I'm certainly glad I live in one where other children's parents have always had their drawbridges down to welcome us.

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