Saturday, May 17, 2008

Best Of ...

(From April 5, 2006)


I came home from work the other day to find our neighbor down the street and his little girl out taking a walk and pausing in front of our house. We started talking and The Trio came out to see what was going on since sidewalk conversations carry pretty well across our four feet of front yard into the living room. It turns out his daughter is S's age, a fact I never realized even though I've seen this girl grow before my very eyes in vignettes of drivebys and afternoon walks such as the one she was on today. So when I arrived home today, S was waiting and ready to go down and see if her new friend was home and we all ended up in their fenced-off backyard with the kids all running and playing and having a big time.

For those without kids, you can't understand the importance of finding a couple your own age with some of their own. Finding people like this, on your own block no less, is akin to being 12-years-old and having your mother foist you upon the new neighbor kid simply because it's summer break and you live on the same block, as though that is all you need in common for being friends. But then you find out that his house has a pool that you never realized was there and thus your summer, and friendship, is made. This is what finding people, in walking distance, with kids, is like. You can carry on an adult conversation with them without being questioned as to the juice stain on the front of your shirt. You don't have to apologize when your child stops you in mid-conversation to ask a question about butterflies. They simply nod knowingly when you spout the evening's menu choices to your brood: fish sticks, PB&J, macaroni & cheese, or Pop-Tarts.

So we were in Neighbor's backyard, with the kids running wild when he offers me a beer. The Trio is entertained and there's free beer. Now this is like meeting that neighbor kid, finding out he has a pool in his yard, and THEN learning that his 19-year-old sister is home for college for the summer and will spend the days laying out poolside. Where would it end? We've met other couples with kids in the past but it's always difficult to maintain relationships. Depending on where you meet them, they may live across the city (the suburbs?!) or their kids' ages may be just a little off from your own. There may be a difference in socio-economic class or they may be the type who wear their beliefs on their sleeve to the point that you're trying to get your kid to break out of his shyness and introduce himself to theirs and they've spent the first five minutes trying to save your soul. And this new friendship of the past couple of days could fall apart. But they do live just down the block and the only downside so far is that their house is for sale, though it has been for quite a while and they really don't seem all that interested in selling. Perhaps knowing there are good kids in the neighborhood for their daughter to run with will entice them to stay. All I know is as we were leaving his backyard last night, Neighbor suggested we come down for a cookout sometime. Now he's cooking me meat? That's like finding out the neighbor kid has a pool in his backyard, that his 19-year-old sister is home from college to tan in front of your eyes and she's, well, willing to grill meat for you.

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