SOL 2016, D12 Free Range Children

I just had the perfect small town morning, in spite of the fact that my small town has 100,000 people in it.  I walked the 15 minutes to a neighborhood coffee shop to meet some fellow moms to plan a graduation party for our boys.  I walked the circuitous way so I could pass the block where we had a 4th of July parade 18 years ago – just one block long.  I walked past Margaret’s lime green and baby blue house and thought about how I hadn’t see her out with her dog for the past few weeks.   As we sat in the back of the shop, planning and catching up with friends, every now and again we would say hello to someone we knew who was passing through for a morning cup.

I left there to walk another block to our small grocery store to pick up one item.  I saw a neighbor sitting out front with her two boys eating bagel sandwiches.  We talked for well over a half hour (the bagels were long gone) and caught up on college decisions, spring break plans, and neighborhood news.

I walked home past the park, up the hill and back to my block.  I ran into another neighbor out front with her boys, ages 8 and 10.  The 8 year old asked his mom if he and and his friends could ride their bikes down to the ‘mall’ to get a yo-yo from the toy shop.  She bit her nails like they were the decision she was chewing on and hesitantly said yes.  As the boys rode away, she turned to me and asked me what I thought of free range kids.

I am all for free range kids.  It never ceases to put a smile on my face to see the kids in our neighborhood out and about, roaming from one backyard trampoline to another’s skate ramp to another’s garage refrigerator.  Free range kids live really well in free range neighborhoods.  My neighbor and I agreed on was that it works where we live because our neighborhood network reaches out pretty far.  While those boys are at the ‘mall’, they will likely be seen by people we know who will keep an eye out.  They will bike past the pizza place that is owned by a guy whose kids go to school with mine, by the chocolate shopped owned by one of my past student’s parents, and past 100 year old Doc Joe’s house where he is likely sitting in his folding deck chair on his patio watching the youngsters bike by.

As another neighbor rode up on his bike and stopped, we talked about the 94 year old woman whose husband is now in a nursing home and how we just watched another neighbor pick her up to visit her husband.  Her children and neighbors have all been pitching in.  We talked about Dean, on the other corner,  and how his pacemaker was giving him trouble thus the ambulance there last week.  And about the rental house on the corner and how we hope the family renting there will get to buy the house.

Yet another friend rode by on her mountain bike on her way home.  She pointed out a cool new house at the end of block and asked who lived there.  It’s a mutual teaching friend of ours but she didn’t realize that was where they lived.  Yet one more connection.

For a not very small town, this neighborhood sure feels like a small town.  We are so lucky to live where we live and so lucky that most of those around us also realize how lucky we are.  We look out for each other.  We don’t get in each other’s business but we know enough to know when we need to help out.   And we love to see kids roaming free.  We all keep an eye out as we all watch their wings grow.  I love my ‘little village’.

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