A pair of brothers, primary-school aged, live next door. Confident, direct, interested. They sat perched on the fence bordering our homes as I put up the washing this afternoon, baby girl on the ground floor trying to scale up our side of the fence to reach them.
“Can we play with her?” the younger one asked.
“Ahhh,” I stalled. I didn’t have any reason to say no, but I had a headache, I needed to start dinner, and I didn’t know where they would play… I hadn’t even met their mother, and so I couldn’t just unceremoniously dump baby girl on her to play with some older boys at her house.
“She’s having an early dinner soon, so I’m not sure,” I bluffed.
“Is that because she’s going to bed earlier?” (I told you, interested).
“No, not really…”
“Maybe we can come over and play after dinner?”
“Yeah.” Push things to after. “We’ll see what happens.”
I then took the washing basket in thinking it was all resolved and nothing would happen, while baby girl jumped on her trampoline and let off some steam.
Well then, I actually started on dinner. And about 45 minutes later, with things well underway, Hubbie home from work and now my splitting headache also far along, I was sitting for a moment on the couch, doing a Bold and the Beautiful catch-up, when something caught my eye out of the front window, some figures coming up the footpath towards the house.
Boys. Barefoot. Bowed heads.
But ready to play with Baby Girl.
I turned to baby girl who hadn’t yet seen them, and when I asked her if she wanted to play with them, here and now, she almost couldn’t believe her stroke of luck.
She led them to the backyard and they jumped away like mad, performing all manner of tricks in the trampoline.
The boys came inside, spoke to us. Looked at our nearby photos, played with her toys. They slam dunked on a basketball hoop we have hanging off a nearby door, and we asked them about their primary school.
They were really gentle and kind with baby girl.
They all played together, just perfectly. And the level of respect they showed to her, just blew me away.
Even besides the impressing me part, I was reminded, and led back to the good ol’ days when I was that young kid. At my neighbours’ house – and I had three friendly neighbour houses who I frequented daily back then – that I knew back to front.
I knew their lives and their families. They knew mine. It was the perfect, best upbringing. Four houses in a row, and all four houses with girls of the same age. It was the stuff of stories. Not even writers could write this stuff and get away with it.
But so too, it ended the way stories do. People grow up. Parents separate. Kids go to private schools and remove themselves. And soon they all moved away.
It doesn’t take away from my awesome childhood memories, and honestly, I have too many. I am still in contact with 2 out of those 3 girls, and even went to their weddings, and they mine, so I think that is a fabulous effort considered.
But I sometimes think, and ponder, how nice it would be for baby girl to grow up amongst that kind of setting. Neighbours her age, where they could spend their days together, outside as kids should, running and bike riding and playing hide and seek within a one block radius, ‘park permitted.’ 🙂
Freedom, and yet safety. Where the parents know each other, know the kids, and all can play together, alternating houses, and yet the parents can still tell their kids friends to ‘go home because we’re having dinner now.’ That kind of honest, direct, freedom.
I thought of all that today. I thought of what I had growing up, and I looked at what was happening now in our house.
The noise, the kids, the neighbours. Her new friends 🙂
The ball rolled over to me as I was chopping cucumbers. I kicked it back to the young boy who took it and slam dunked against the hoop.
Later, Hubbie interrupted their jumping party outside and told them it was now our dinner time. Baby girl waved them off, “bye boys!” while he hoisted them OVER THE FENCE.
Now that’s, a real neighbour. I freaking love it :):):)
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash