Sunday, September 14, 2008

You can take the girl off the farm, but you can't make her 'neighborly'.

Growing up, I did not really want to be on a farm. I wanted a 'real' address--one with a STREET NAME and not a mail route and box number. I wanted a paved driveway that I could skate on, or draw hopscotch on, or hell, just not get gravel scrapes on. I wanted neighbors...and yeah at some point a family built a house like 1/4 mi from our house, but that's not exactly what I wanted. I wanted, *gasp!*, suburbia. But those are not things you get when you live on a farm. You get 55 MPH no-line-in-it asphalt roads at the end of your looooong gravel driveway, and corn fields around your house. Now, don't get me wrong! There was a lot of good I got, too. I generally enjoyed it on the farm, though I suffered from a bad case of not-green-enough-grass-itus.

In college I finally had the 'normal' address. And cable. And the houses, I swear, had to be on 1/8 acre lots, if that. Fast forward a bunch-a-buncha years and I live in a very densely populated area in one of the largest cities in the country. I have neighbors out the wazoo.

Oddly, I'm not as interested in them as it seems like people assume I would be. I have puzzled over this from time to time. When we moved into this neighborhood, I was 7+ month pregnant with Carter and it was summer. We had already been active in a playgroup, which was in its heyday at that time, so I suppose I did not want for activities, and when we were home, I was unpacking, mothering, or resting...or in the pool. We made the acquaintance of our neighbors across the street and to both sides of us, but they are all older, with adult children. So, time passed. And we played with the friends we had already.

My husband's one somewhat irrational fear also came into play. See, he is NOT a fan of front yard playtime. It's silly, and feels REALLY silly typing it out, but here it is: Psychos have, on occasion, chosen prey when driving around, iresistably drawn to a child or children after seeing them. As I said, irrational, but Paul can't bear the worry that I and the kids will be in danger from being in the front yard. My gentle reminder that our street is not a through street meets deaf ears on this one. Paul's generally laid back and gives me a lot of leeway, so I let him have this one. While chuckling to myself because, well, ya know, it's a bit coo coo, but then again in the same chuckle I remember he just loves us and if keeping it to the backyard makes him sleep better at night, then it's a small price to pay.

However, it does contribute to my lack of neighborliness. We're not out there, so we probably miss a lot of opportunities to meet and play with the children on our street of the same age. And there are a few, I am sheepishly learning. As in, oh, like 4 of her classmates in her grade alone and many more older and younger. Whoops!

Silly farm girl, I am, I forget there is a populated world outside my door when I close it. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. Time to try to learn a few new tricks, I suppose. to that end, a friend of Bun's lives ~6 doors down, and we're going to meet her at the park in a couple-few days after school. Who knows, maybe we'll even meet *all* the kids on our street someday, haha.


Elle said...

Well, better to learn about them now, than later? Be careful though, you may not want Bun hanging out with ALL the kids her age in the neighborhood. I swear there is more bad blood created in the neighborhoods after school than anywhere else. So just keep your eyes peeled and ears open. As the teacher, I have literally been caught in the middle of arguments between families, and they have literally called to ask what the deal is with another kids, OR stopped by to tell us about another ain't pretty.

It's funny, I always saw you as more content to be on the farm than me. I craved the company of others, even if it wasn't my own family; which is why, if you remember, I rode my bike two miles down the road to go to Tara's house. I could never sit still for long--still can't. I'm such a goober...when B and I go on walks, I love it when our neighbors are friendly and say "hi." If someone doesn't, I think they are rude.

Kristianna said...

I like friendly, for sure -- I just don't have that instinct built in to seek out the neighbors to play with and... oh I don't know. I guess I feel like there has to be a more compelling reason than proximity to be friends? KWIM? That being said, it's nice that bun has some friends close, and it could be convenient. We're getting to know people more, and one of the moms on the block just loves Bun (she's very active at their school) and it's nice to know there is a set of eyes on Bun to give me feedback other than that of a teacher or Bunny herself...

Can you imagine letting a child ride a bike 2 miles down a country road like that nowadays? Regardless of whether it's safe or not, if something *did* happen, the parents would be skewered for not being on top of things. Of course I was allowed to baby sit you at age 7 or 8. The thought of letting Bunny be in charge of the boys in more than a 'watch the baby while I run to the bathroom for 3 mins' way is beyond unsettling. I know I pretty much just saw it as a chance to get at Daddy's stereo equipment or some such forbidden thing.

Elle said...

Are you sure you were 7 or 8? I don't remember that. I remember it when you were about 10, but not that young. If so, maybe they just thought you were mature enough?

I guess times were very different back then. I don't think they worried about me riding to Tara's because no one ever went down that whole road, and if they did, there was a good chance we knew them. Remember how we could hear someone crossing over the bridge? I used to then watch to see who passed. If I didn't recognize the car, I didn't like it. As if I somehow could grant permission to those who went down the road. :)

I do know what you mean about compelling reasons...sometimes when you have your own thing going on it's easy to forget your immediate surroundings. I have always been slow to warm up to strangers, so things like that take me a while...except when I transferred to JMU. I was literally at other people's houses introducing myself because I knew if I didn't, my life would be very limited to my housemates, and that was it.

Kristianna said...

Yeah--they'd be up at the stables, not out to dinner/shopping or something, but they did leave me/us alone. I guess it seemed like it was not 'away', though let's face it, it was farther than some people do live from a store, haha!

That's funny about you being possessive of the road.

I'm a little slow to warm up, too. Some people boggle my mind -- my friend Heidi was telling me how she literally met a neighbor and the woman was calling her and dropping by 5+ times a day within 72 hrs (which was a bit much for H). I can't imagine... but that woman is an extreme, LOL!

by Heidi-Marie said...

HA! Yes, well, I got called i.d. and my neighbor got the message. LOL. I guess she was just excited to have someone in the neighborhood.

Growing up, our nearest neighbors were about a mile away (literally), until people developed their acres and a bunch of brand new homes were put up (when I was 10) and we suddenly had a real neighborhood (though ours was the longest driveway and our house was far off the road). But even if we'd had lived in a typical suburban tract neighborhood, I wouldn't have been allowed to cavort with the neighborhood kids.

As a parent, my heart longs for the neighborhood with tree-lined streets full of families who know each other and kids who play together. But you can move someplace and there is no guarantee of that... That cul de sac might be full of retirees or (like our hood now), it's full of kids, but not kids I want mine hanging out with.

Be careful what you wish for... but I think you got lucky. Your neighborhood is awesome and I think you might be surprised at how nice it is to have friends on your street.

...Just make sure you screen your calls!

PS: Got the card yesterday! She LOVED it! Thanks for thinking of Lil.

PPS: Those were good ole days with the playgroup, weren't they? Man I miss those days sometimes.

Kristianna said...

I am glad she liked it -- and I tell you, I think the mail is slower these days. I mailed it Wednesday? Hello, you're not *that* far away. Anyway!

We saw Sonya N. at the park (we being me and Christi, of course), and she was there with Eric. We're planning on making it a weekly thing more or less, to meet there with the little ones. Eric is a really sweet kid, BTW, and Sonya looks great!


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