July 14, 2015

The Value of Good Neighbours

I grew up in the city - not downtown, but not far from the core. I was about 30 minutes away on public transit. Houses (duplexes - multi-family homes) were close together, if not completely attached and kids were everywhere. It was generally safe to run in the street (one time my sister actually lay down in the middle of it, much to the anger of my father when he saw her) and everyone's doors were unlocked all day long, as troops of children ran through. In summer, the sound of kid's playing outside did not stop until it started to get dark and the street lights came on.

All this to say, there was community. Though at the time our school system was segregated between the English-speaking Catholics, and English-speaking Protestants or others (since the Protestant schools were the only ones that would allow people from other religions in them), and the French Catholics, we all still played together on the street despite not attending the same schools. Our street was a wonderful mix of Blacks, Italians, Portuguese, Greek, French Canadians, Anglos and Indians, and all different age groups.

That community is missing now where we live. While the Little Man was born closer to the downtown core in a highly-populated part of the city, we opted to move to a part of the island a little further out, with a big backyard and a completely detached house. I didn't want to hear neighbours and noise. I always dreamed of a big backyard. But now, unfortunately, there are hardly any kids in sight. It seems that people keep their children inside, or maybe playing in their own backyards.

The Value of Good Neighbours - green text on white background with a row of green house outlines - a post by OneQuarterMama.ca.

So when everyone is guarding their kids and helicopter parenting, I'd like my son to be able to experience the freedom of wandering around all day with a gaggle of other kids - getting dirty and into trouble. Going to the corner store to get candies (or see if we could get away with pocketing a box of Nerds), going to the park and the pool. See how fast you can ride your bike and how far you can get before you get lost. Running back home only when someone scraped a knee or needed a popsicle, or when you heard you mother yelling your name from the front door telling you to come in for lunch. To me that is what childhood is about.

I guess more playdates are in order to get around this, but I find parents reluctant to just leave their kids in our backyard. It could be because special needs kids are a little more sneaky at times.

Anywho, luckily we have a nice retired couple living next to us. The guy's name is Bob and the Little Man likes Bob, which is the reason I think he wanted to be called Bob for a while.

Probably because I gave them lettuce from our garden a few days before, the Little Man decided he wanted to give them an orange. Fine, I said. 'Go put on your socks and shoes and ring their doorbell.' While he was getting ready, we called Bob to give him a head's up - we're sending him over by himself to practice. He needs to ring the doorbell, say hello, give the orange and come right back. I wanted to warn them to send him back because otherwise he will get into a whole big long conversation and take up their whole afternoon!

At first the Little Man protested about not being able to put his socks on by himself. Well, I said if he really wanted to do this, he would find a way. We helped him a bit, but in the end, he did the rest. He opened the front door, orange in hand, and took off running to the neighbours'. Then we waited. And waited. We gave him five minutes and then I peaked out the front door. He was on their porch talking the neighbour's ear off.
I told him it was time to come back now. He finished his story and informed them how great it was they wouldn't have to buy an orange now and came running back home.

He came in and said, "I went over to Bob's house all by myself!" and was so proud.

This to me, is what summer and childhood is about. Testing yourself. Learning. Sometimes failing and bruising knees. Sometimes doing something new and being proud. This is what I want for him. Thank goodness for good, patient neighbours.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear from readers. Thanks for your comments!