Saturday, November 04, 2006

Making Friends

When I was growing up, I had no fewer than thirty kids in my neighborhood that I could play with. I would come home from school, throw my bag down and be out the door to see what everyone was up to, that is unless I was in the mood for Gilligan's Island. We did everything: bike riding, baseball, basketball, football, home run derby, tag, war (in the woods), trading baseball cards, and, when the sun went down, ghost in the graveyard. We knew our neighbors and our neighbors knew us, and everyone seemed to look out for each other. We had the run of the neighborhood.

My, how times have changed. We've lived in our home for almost three years now and we barely know any of our neighbors. It seems that everyone is content to keep to themselves. I rarely see any kids out playing as most of the kids on our street are older, junior highers or high schoolers.

One afternoon last week after school, the girls wanted to ride their scooters out on the sidewalk. I complied, as I had a little yard work that needed to be done. I like to be out there with them since I don't really know our neighbors that aren't immediately surrounding our home. As they rode their scooters, they encountered several other kids walking home from school. They were all older, but every time one of the girls saw one, they'd scream, "KID!" and peel out on their scooters to go meet them. It was like watching lions in a feeding frenzy on a fresh kill.

"What's your name?"
"How old are you?"
"Where do you go to school?"
"What grade are you in?"
"Where do you live?"
"Do you have a scooter?"
"Do you have a dog?"
"Do you want to play?"

In almost every instance (this happened three or four times), the accosted child was merely passing through our street to get to their home on another street. Witnessing this made me realize for the first time just how different my childhood was from my girls'. It made me sad.

Finally, a little while later, the girls noticed a little boy out riding his scooter. POW! They were off like a shot to administer the inquisition:

His name is Shawn.
He is six years old.
He goes to the same school as them...duh.
He's in first grade.
He lives five houses down from us on the opposite side of the street.
He has a scooter (they didn't have to ask that question...he was standing on it).
He doesn't have a dog.
And, most importantly, he DID want to play.

Phew! They spent most of the rest of the afternoon riding their scooters until Shawn's mom called him inside. She probably feels the same way I do: she has no idea who I am and is not exactly sure if she wants her son down at my house. I don't take it personally. I was just glad the girls were able to make a friend on our street.

We've seen quite a bit of Shawn this past week. He's a rambunctious little guy, but he's nice and the girls like playing with him. He did tell us, however, that his dad is in the military and that his family is moving in December. So in a couple of months, the girls will be back out on the street looking for new neighborhood friends.

This time I'll beat the streets with them because I want them to enjoy the same kind of childhood that I remember.

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