When our son was little we had Australian friends who came and visited. Actually we only knew them because the husband was writing up an Australian version of a program that I wrote the documentation for the American version. Anyway, at the time they seemed to be to be only family with new little baby so they came and stayed with us for a while. They did that a few times and I remember walking with them and thinking how we would be couple friends forever and would see each other kiddos grow up and be friends too.
But sadly that didn't happen.
The husband got a job with Microsoft so they moved to the US for a few years. They were in a different state though. More importantly we did not keep up writing letters or keeping in touch. When they moved back to Australia instead of coming to see us they would fly to the East Coast and stay with someone else. I wrote letters but did not get a reply, so when I heard they were visiting the other family gave up writing. It was a great loss to me to not have that forever friendship. It would have enriched our lives so much to have that connection - the adults and the children.
I learned a lot from that Australian woman while they were here and when we were writing each other. She had one slightly older daughter who also stayed with us. My mom bought that little girl a beautiful dress with pink polka dots on a black background as a going away gift, it was so much fun to have them stay with us. It was wonderful to see the kids interacting and playing together.
She taught me how to make playdough - and we would set the kids up each with a little pile of the stuff on what she named the playdough counter. It's a divider between our kitchen eating area that is about 18 inches high on the eating side and you (the adult) can stand at the den side and easily do crafts with little kiddos. Other people may get high stools and serve drinks on the counter, but we always used it for crafts.
I had our son go to UCSD to be part of a study about delayed language - he was not talking when I signed him up, but was talking by the time the study started. He would be in a room with a student doing whatever they asked with blocks and things - and they would ask him questions. I could look thru the window and see and hear what was going on. They asked if he had a sister and he said he had, but she moved back to Australia. Little kids. It made me so sad to hear him say that.
She gave me these wonderful cookbooks that showed how to make special birthday cakes - she said it was fun to make them instead of just buying them. To this day we always make our birthday cakes here.
She also told me about the concept of 'parent and me' playgroups.
I looked into parent and me playgroups and my son and I had fabulous times not only at the classes (operated thru park and recreation programs) but even more wonderfully after a few years. Three mothers got together and organized a private group and we were invited to join in. For several years every Friday we would trade houses and the hostess would plan activities for the kids and food for us to share. I don't think we even did potluck, it was as I recall, all the responsibility for the hostess to entertain and feed for the day. Those ladies and the kids were so special to me.
It turned out one child was born the day before our son at the same hospital, and the other was born the same day at the same hospital. Years later we realized we had photos of her and her husband in the recovery room in our photos!
It was so much fun to be part of a group. When we would take a little trip, I would bring back three little things to share with them.
We helped one of the families move to their new home and had fun at birthday parties and holiday events. Then one year before the Christmas party that was to be at our home one of the ladies decided we should not exchange any gifts - adults or children. We certainly don't need gifts, but I was shattered as my son did not have siblings or cousins - that was the role the Friday Group was to play for him.
I still thought we'd know each other and be friends forever. But the kids started kindergarten then and we mainly stopped seeing each other.
The real kicker was years later when we finally did get together, I discovered that one of the kids had gotten married more than a year before. I really felt out of their lives then. I know how difficult it can be to invite people to a wedding - there is an extra cost for each guest, and brides may restrict the number of groom family invitees so they can have more from their side of the clan present - but I thought I'd get a phone call or email telling me of the engagement or wedding.
Every few years one of us will contact the others, but the closeness is gone. There doesn't seem to be any point to asking questions and catching up now.