Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Village

I just read an article entitled “I miss my village.”  I read it while folding pool towels, preparing for an onslaught of neighborhood kids and their parents to come over for a summer afternoon. The only reason I was “preparing” was that, after so many impromptu neighborhood gatherings, I decided we had to limit them a little bit so we could plan other activities. (The house is still a mess, but that’s ok because I know my fellow villagers don’t care)

See, I live in The Village. That village where your neighbor’s door is open and your kids freely wander in. Ok, not so freely, my neighbor put sleigh bells on her back door so she could hear when my kid wandered in, as often she’d turn around, startled, to find a stealthy 4 year old looking up at her. 

A neighborhood where, when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and faced multiple surgeries, before I could blink my eyes neighbors planned childcare for our two kids, planned and delivered meals, even offered to clean my house.

The village where, when I must write down the responsible adults who may pick up my child from school, the newcomer at the school thinks I must be nuts: I have at least ten names down. Then a teacher steps in and says “I have to explain to them about ‘the neighborhood.’”  Because, at any given time, if I’m stuck across town, or having a sleeping baby I would rather not wake, or was in the middle of a home project, I could call and ask “Can you get my kid from school today?”

The village where, when I had to go out of town for the day, I could rally a tag team of five families to pick up and deliver my kids from different schools to different homes until I could get back.

The village where, when I need a wine opener, I can walk next door and borrow one, then share the wine. Ok, I’ll be honest, usually it’s my neighbor asking for the wine opener because I’m well stocked, but we still share the bottle.

The village where, after yet another pool party, the gathering will morph into dinner and movie watching with multiple families (this one planned, because, we know by now it’ll happen anyway).

The village where I can chat with my female friends, some other moms, some without kids. The village where I can chat with my male friends, some dads, some without kids. The village where my childless next door neighbors are honorary grandparents to my kids. The village consists of all types of families, not just those with kids. 

Our village is urban, and while we have trees to climb, there are streets to traverse, which mean we can’t just let our four year olds run to their friend’s house a few blocks away (as much as he may think he can).  There’s enough traffic that I don’t let my kids play in the street, but they can walk down the sidewalk to the neighbors' houses. We have what one neighbor calls "Walkpooling" - she'll pick up anywhere from five to ten kids and walk them home from school. 

Our village has multiple layers.  The layers include two major neighborhoods and another smaller one, but still, all One Village. The layers include families with small kids, families with grown kids, childfree families, and singles.  One Village. 

I don’t miss the village. I live in The Village. We even have a flag. 

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