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.