Countless times I've turned up the music in the van to drown out the unhappy sounds of my children. A newborn's cries and a preschooler's tattling are both more unpleasant in the enclosed space of a van.
Tonight was different.
As we drove home after a lovely evening with friends, I found myself first turning down the music and then turning it off.
Ann was asking me for a guinea pig when our dog "goes to heaven."
Chris said he didn't want the guinea pig to bite him.
Ann quickly reassured him that she wouldn't let that happen.
Convinced of his safety, he added that he'd like a monkey.
Ann confidently told him that he couldn't have a monkey because they need trees and we can't have those inside.
On and on the conversation went. I answered questions as they asked them, but mostly I just listened.
I thought back to when Ann was nearly two and Chris was just a baby. He cried each and every time we got in the car. Nothing would soothe him. For those five seemingly long months that he screamed any time we were in the car, I would have never imagined how in just a short while he and his sister would be carrying on friendly chatter as we drove peacefully through town.
Next I caught myself daydreaming about what they might be talking about 10, 20, or 30 years from now. Before I could even begin to imagine them as adults, I found myself hoping and praying that they would be good friends.
Seeing and hearing my children enjoy each other's company as we drove made me feel even more blessed than usual. It also served as a reminder that the tedious and exhausting job of helping my children learn to get along day in and day out may one day be richly rewarded.
If my prayers are answered, my children won't simply call each other brother or sister, they will call each other friend.