Where Do The Children Go?

By almost all accounts, I live in a nice neighborhood.  I don’t think it (the neighborhood) was planned, rather it came together as some kind of cosmic accident: a major highway is a block away, yet within this wooded neighborhood, you feel like you’re living in some rural enclave.  For a person my age, it’s almost heaven.

And therein lies a problem.  Something that’s been nagging at me for a while.  My children have no neighborhood playmates.

We’ve been trying to walk more as a family, and a good place to do it is the neighborhood that sits behind our house (our street is kind of the bulwark – the real neighborhood is behind our “woods”).  As we walked yesterday, Lintilla would point out her friend’s houses from the late 60’s / early 70’s .  Back then, almost every house had at least one child in it, near Lintilla’s age.  What a wonderful place it must have been!

It makes me kind of sad to think that this manicured, ghostly quiet neighborhood was once filled with the cries and squeals of children.

I had that growing up.  My parents were not wealthy, far from it, so we live in tightly knit working class neighborhoods and apartments (we moved a lot).  I have specific memories of specific neighborhood kids: playing Evil Knievel with Howard, building forts and playing war with Bill, seeing my first Hot Wheel at the house of “Jeff across the street” (that’s what we called him).

My children have no idea what that’s like.  They have bookoos of friends; all of them from school, church, summer camp.  None from the neighborhood.  If I’m honest with myself, I know that most young parents cannot afford houses here.  I couldn’t.  Were this not the paid-for house Lintilla was raised in, we’d be somewhere else.

And I’m not ungrateful: I realise that my children have educational and other advantages because I don’t have a mortgage.

But summer’s here.  I should be hearing the play of children in the distance, broken up by the sweet call of a mom, beckoning her kids to supper.  But, I don’t hear that.

I don’t believe in regrets, but I get darned close when I think of this subject.

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Where Do The Children Go?”

  1. Busy Mom Says:

    We’re kind of in the same boat, no other kids around.

    But, I’ve thought about it for a while, and, I’ve realized that:

    1. The world’s not the same place we grew up in, and, even if there were kids around, we couldn’t allow our kids the same roaming freedom we had

    2. As they get older, they’re home less and less, anyway.

  2. Katherine Coble Says:

    ARGH! I hate ontomontopaeic spellings of loaner words!!

    bookoos of friends

    That would be “beaucoup”.

    ::removes wordgeek hat, bows in shame::

    I should be hearing the play of children in the distance, broken up by the sweet call of a mom, beckoning her kids to supper.

    I’ll trade you houses. The neighbourhood kids ALL play on the common-area hill behind my house. The hill that 1/2 the neighbourhood (ones with kids) want to turn into a playground. The hill that we paid extra to back onto because it would always be a “quiet area” with no development. (That’s actually in our contract, and the contracts of the other houses backing onto the common area.)

    I don’t mind if the kids want to play behind our house. I do mind that they are constantly pulling branches off my weeping willow to have ‘swordfights’, throwing rocks over the fence at my dogs and drawing on my fence with chalk.

    The thing is that we have like a dozen really good neighbour kids and one Evil Ringleader. The kid is so bad that other parents have actually come to my front door and asked me to phone them discreetly if I see their kid playing behind our house with Evil Ringleader. ER has hit several of the other kids with rocks and branches from my tree. He even stole a bunch of their toys and threw them over our fence at our dogs.

    I say all of this not to imply that I hate kids. I don’t. (although from my recent posts about being sick in the nursery and children not being the center of the universe, etc., I realise I’m not on a good streak of proving my love for kids. eeek.)

    I’m saying all of this to show that there’s an upside to having more “handpicked” friends for your kids. Sure you have to drive to school & church friends’ houses. But there’s more of an affinity there than just the fact that you live close by. And who knows…maybe one of the kids you’d have living close by would be an Evil Ringleader that would actually scar your kids for life.

    (Remind me to tell you about the time I was molested at six years old by my own Neighbourhood Evil Ringleader and the two boys he bullied into helping him. And how my brother, who witnessed the whole thing at 4 years old and couldn’t stop it has never looked at me the same way since.)

  3. Slartibartfast Says:

    Kat: sorry about the phonetic spelling; it’s been a problem of mine since third grade.

    But,

    Holy crap! That’s awful! Molestation? It’s having a hard time sinking in… I’m so sorry you had to go through such an ordeal at six. Pardon me, but, damn.

    I have no frame of reference. I remember the twin girls next door chasing me around trying to kiss me and my brother (why couldn’t they do that AFTER puberty?) , but that was all innocence. What you said at the end truly has me shaken. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and your brother. Damn, again.

    Anyway, as for the other stuff, I think Busy Mom hit upon the real crux of the matter. We both grew up not far from each other, in a different time, when all the parents knew each other and worked together, when kids could roam around the streets in relative safety. Those days are gone, whether you live in a “young” neighborhood or not.

    I’m pining for something that ceased to exist long ago.

  4. nm Says:

    Goodness, Kat. I got harrassed a lot by older boys back in the day, but nothing that crossed the line into assault, however mild. What did you do about it?

    As far as kids playing together goes, there’s a bunch of kids on my block. There are a couple of infants, who don’t count. There are a couple of houses that seem to be full to the brim of kids, who all play with each other and range up and down the street between their houses and seem to have a swell old time that reminds me of my own childhood. A couple of the boys were fake-roughhousing one day and stepped onto our lawn in the process (oh! the horror!) and one of them actually reprimanded the others for it, not knowing that my husband was watching. So that although an evil ringleader may yet appear he hasn’t done so yet; I think having it all on the same block under the eyes of the porch-sitters may be of help here. And then there’s my next door neighbor, an elderly woman who occasionally has one of her grandsons to stay with her on weekends; he’s sooooo lonely, and he looks at those meandering kids so wistfully, but no dice; his grandmother won’t let him play with them because she heard one of them cuss once. He comes over and talks to us and it sounds like he gets the same kind of thing at home with his parents. There can be such a thing as handpicking too carefully, I think.

  5. Katherine Coble Says:

    What did you do about it?

    [begin long-ish story] It was back in the “you show me yours, I’ll show you mine” days. The other kids used to go into the neighbours’ dog house and do that.

    I, of course, being the bitchy little six year old, squealed to the parents, who were understandably upset. The ER, the boy whose family owned the dog house and a third boy cornered me on the way home from playing at their house (w/dog house boy’s sister), pushed me down on the ground, pulled down my pants and stuck twigs and blades of grass in my vagina. I kicked one boy in the teeth and bit the one holding me down and ran home. I told my brother not to tell on me because I was afraid I’d be in trouble. A few years later two of the boys mentioned it in a sheepishly apologetic way. I told them that it didn’t matter because Jesus forgives all sins and I felt I should forgive them. (Because I did.) Then I got a rep as being the “weird religious girl” which stuck with me for the rest of my lifetime. [end longish story]

    There can be such a thing as handpicking too carefully, I think.

    No doubt.

    We both grew up not far from each other, in a different time, when all the parents knew each other and worked together, when kids could roam around the streets in relative safety. Those days are gone, whether you live in a “young” neighborhood or not.

    I think it is possible to find that to some degree, but less so. I mean, we live in a young neighbourhood and there are (obviously) pockets of kids who play together. But that thing we all had when we were kids of the parents socialising as much as the kids doesn’t seem to exist.

    Maybe it’s because no one throws key parties anymore.

  6. nm Says:

    I kicked one boy in the teeth and bit the one holding me down

    Atta girl!

    Maybe it’s because no one throws key parties anymore.

    Atta girl!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: