Are there children playing with each other in your neighborhood? When I grew up there were a lot of children living on my block. I knew every family, from the Wards on one corner to the Watsons on the other. How many kids were there? Bernice & Barbie; Eric, Mitchell & Trevor; Jennifer, Rebecca, Mike & Jere; John & I; Jessica & Jimmy. Thirteen kids within 6 homes on our side of the street! On the other side of the street there was Hunter, Neil, Jeff, Kathleen, Maura, Michael, Shelia, Pat & Pam. More than 20 children on our street alone. there were many more on the other side of the block and on neighboring streets. Our parents all built homes around the same time and most were new to Florida. It was a wonderful street to grow up on: kickball, jail-break, hide & seek. We played outside after school until dinner and then after dinner until the street lights came on. That was our rule--come home when the lights come on.
We don't have any street lights out at our place. We live in the country. Where as I discovered while researching children & nature for a Stenhouse column yesterday, less than 2% of children live. Sometimes I feel isolated. I don't mind it. I love the quiet and the sounds of birds, but I've felt for Collin. Most days it's just he and I home from school. We might play sword fight, or make art, or shoot hoops before dinner but Mom is no substitute for a real friend, I can tell you.
Imgaine our surprise after Easter dinner when we looked out our front window and saw a small boy standing in front of our house. Watching us from the street, he was wearing a large, red dirt-bike helmet (though he was riding a regular bike). My first thought was that he was lost. My second was to wonder what he was doing pacing in front of our house. Once he saw us looking out, he started waving. Turns out, Nathan, who's 8, recently moved into a two-story house just down the street (about 4 acre lengths away). He'd seen Collin outside once and had been trying to meet him ever since. I've been praying for a boy to move in and would you look at that: one did! As we stood outside talking to him, his Mom, Julie, drove by and introduced herself. I can't tell you how excited Collin is to find Nathan: a friend!
So, how do I not hover? When we met Nathan he told us he's the "class clown" at school and that he recently got in trouble for calling his teacher "Miss Hots-a-lot" because she's pretty. Apparently, Nathan's dad didn't approve and said that it was inappropriate, but Nathan thinks the teacher thought it was funny. You can imagine my reaction. A wide-eyed "oh my" was all I could reply.
Nathan came over Tuesday and he and Collin played outside while Rick & I cut templates for the crown molding we're going to try to hang next week. I listened in: lots of dog-butt talk and laughter. I'd like the boys to play outside, near my house preferably, but Wednesday, Collin asked if he could ride his bike down to Nathan's house. We agreed on a time he'd come home and off he went. Alone. By himself. Without me. Boy did I want to go into hover mode and follow him, but I didn't.