Building a Village, One Block at a Time
My childhood was extremely lonely. We somehow always lived far away from my school friends, and there usually weren't kids my age living nearby. I didn't really start to develop real friendships until I was in high school and able to drive myself around.
I'd say I've gotten much better at making friends once I had kids. I joined a mommy group when Zach was only six-weeks-old because I was quickly aware that I could not do this alone. Six-and-a-half years later, I'm still friends with most of the mommy group members, but none of them live in really close walking distance.
Photo by Ned Horton
I've been envious of my friends who can send their kids a few doors down to a neighbor's house so I recently decided to reach out to another family on our street with young children.
Last week, I invited the six- and nine-year old girls who live five doors down from us. I was pretty nervous about how things would go. Zach and the six-year-old girl are only a few weeks apart, but sometimes Zach has a hard time playing with new kids, especially girls. He'll insist on playing Legos or Star Wars, and some kids just aren't in to either of those things. It can be miserable for everyone involved.
I needn't have worried. Zach and the girl got along immediately and had a great time. Right after the play date ended he asked me to invite her to his birthday party. His birthday is in the summer time.
Kaylee was much slower to warm up to the nine-year-old girl. She's used to being around six-year-olds, but I guess the extra three-year difference really intimidated her. She would only sit on my lap and resisted any attempts from the girl to play with her.
Thankfully, the girl could draw, and after a few minutes of telling her what to draw, Kaylee finally went off to her room to play with her. By the end of the play date, they were walking down the street holding hands. At one point the girl was carrying Kaylee down the street like a cat, and Kaylee loved it.
We've already scheduled another play date this week at their house. I'm working on setting up get-togethers with the other family with a young child on our street and another family two blocks away.
I think that Zach is old enough to walk his sister five houses down without adult supervision, although I just found out the 16-year-old girl next door is learning to drive, so I may make them carry a loud bike horn to announce when they're crossing each driveway.
I'm hoping that when Zach's nine or ten years old, I can send him out around the neighborhood on his bike or on foot for a few hours at a time.
Do you let your kids go to neighbors' houses on their own yet? When will you?