Friday, July 16, 2010

Neighborhood Kids

One of the things I love about my neighborhood is all the great kids. With my kids--and their friends--getting older, I really enjoy having lots of children playing at our house. Honestly, once I was outnumbered by my own kids, adding a dozen more to the day didn't make a big difference. (I don't usually have that many here at one time, although it's happened on occasion.)

My own children like to play elaborate games of House or School or City. Recently, they divided themselves and their friends into various members of the community: librarian, storekeeper, postal carrier, pet store owner, parents, etc. All the "business owners" set up shop around my house and then they all frequented each other's businesses. #1's version of Wal-Mart in the front room was very creative. However I didn't appreciate losing some of my actual groceries when they cleaned it up. A month later we found my strawberry jam and whey protein stuffed behind #4's bed.

The kids also have fun playing outside. #5 and his friends like to play in the dirt, so they were happy when I outfitted them with trowels and hand rakes and they dug a nice hole for a tomatillo plant. Running through sprinklers and riding bikes are also favorite activities. Brownie the Cat likes

the neighbors who come to brush him or read to him. (I love this picture of #3's friend who found a picture book about a cat and decided Brownie wanted to hear the story.)

Part of what I love about having all these kids around so often is that I know where my own children are and what they are up to. It's not much extra work for me because they all entertain each other, and everyone is

good about cleaning up and going home when I tell them it's time. Truly though, I really enjoy most of the neighbor kids for their own personalities. I have fun being silly with them and I hope they will always feel comfortable in my home and want to hang around through their teenage years.

From what I've seen, the teens in our neighborhood are a tightly knit group that is welcoming to newcomers. They are out in small groups almost every night playing night games. My own kids talk about when they will be old enough to join in. Lucky for me, I already am.

Last night I met with my piano-playing friends to figure out some duets we can play together. When I arrived, one mom was on the phone with her teenage son who was trying to buy ammo for his Airsoft gun. He was frustrated that the store would sell him the gun because he's over 16 but not the ammunition because he's under 18. He eventually returned to his house and complained about it while the four of us moms listened. Then he and his friends decided to abandon their planned Airsoft war and start a game of Capture the Flag.

I pointed out that we moms are all old enough to buy the ammo, and one other mom jumped on that idea. We all drove to Wal-Mart and bought the Airsoft pellets (without being carded), and then "delivered" the ammo to the boys.

When we found them, we yelled, "Hey boys! Guess who IS old enough to buy ammo!" The whole group of boys just stood there staring at us. I was kind of disappointed at their lame reaction. We drove past and then flipped a U-turn. When they saw the minivan turn around with the moms waving the boys' own Airsoft pistols (and one rubberband gun), these boys took off for cover. Yes! That's the reaction we wanted. We hopped out of the van and cornered them in the back yard. After a few minutes, we called a truce as they told us about their confusion at figuring out who was coming for them until two of the boys recognized it as their family's van being driven by their own mom. It was great! We handed over the containers of pellets, which they happily agreed to trade for lawn work. Then we ladies hopped back in the van, reminded them that curfew ended in three minutes, and took off.

It's nice to know I'm not too old to play with the neighbor kids.

P.S. Today as I read about Airsoft laws, I realize we shouldn't have been brandishing these toy weapons in public--even late at night--because they look real. I can see how Airsoft would be fun to play on a course with everyone wearing goggles, but I do not encourage anyone to play with these guns in a neighborhood. Water fights and Capture the Flag are just as fun and much safer.


VickieG said...

You are an awesome mother---I'm not kidding. How lucky to live in the neighborhood you do with folks that have the same value. Your children are learning about the real world through their childhood experiences. Very nice!!

Min said...

I'm moving to your neighborhood.

mindy said...

I can't believe my kids aren't in any of those. I swear they come over enough! ;o) I used to be better at letting the kids take over the house with their games temporarily. I think it was Leif that made me too tired to make sure it was cleaned up. Maybe when I'm well-rested again. :o) In the meantime, good thing you're around!

Mary said...

Mindy--When I was writing this post, I, too, was surprised that your kids weren't around on any of the days I took pictures. I'm glad they like to come here.

Charlotte said...

I am totally jealous of your neighborhood kids. I'm going to look up those laws to see how much a felon you are...