Remember when you were a kid and you were outside from dawn till dusk. You rode your bike everywhere, climbed trees, played in the bushes and only came home when you were good and filthy and you Mom called you in? I do. When I was in elementary school we lived on a dead end street across from an apartment complex. I had a few friends in the neighborhood, one who lived in the apartments and one who lived in a house next to the apartments. I spent my time at the apartments playground, in the field behind the friend’s house selling lemonade to the golfers over the fence or climbing the crabapple trees. When we moved to a different neighborhood I walked to school and rode my bike to my friends houses. It was fun. I didn’t have a video game system. If it was sunny I was outside.
My how things were different when I became a parent. We didn’t know many people in our neighborhood (despite being in our house for almost 3 years at the time). I couldn’t walk to friends houses. In order for the boy to play with other kids we had to schedule play dates. Oh how I loathe the scheduled play date. I know it’s the new norm, but what happened to kids being kids? I was beginning to feel bad for the boy. Then there was the day that the neighbor girl came to ask if he could play. That sad story ended up being a happy one seeing as eventually my son when to San Diego with that same family about 6 months later.
On the 4th of July we decided to stay home and hang out with the aforementioned neighbor family. We all bought fireworks and thought we’d have a good time. We ended up at another neighbor’s house. That neighbor has a son who is in the 2nd grade. Across the street from that house is another family with 4 children. The oldest there being in the 1st grade too. When the kids all met they had a great time. It snowballed from there.
The boy started hanging out with the 2nd grade kid and then they started playing with the other 1st grade kid while neighbor girl was at Y-camp. Once neighbor girl came home she would end up at our house and on the weekend all the kids would play at one kid’s house.
After school the boy gets off the bus with neighbor girl. He comes home, has a snack, completes homework (if there is any) and then he’s out the door. I don’t see him again until either the neighbor mom sends him home or I got get him for dinner. He rides his bike all over the neighborhood. Sometimes they’ll play at our house. They solve mysteries, have a lookout tower, play in the bushes or garden or chase the chickens around the back yard. “See who can pick up Grinnin” (the gold laced wyandotte) is a favorite game.
I’ve watched these children over the past 2 months and I can’t help but smile. They do what children are supposed to do. They play. Oleg will start soccer (just don’t) and hockey again soon so his time to play with friends will be more limited, but for now he’s gone and having a blast. I love it.