Monday, September 28, 2009

Entering a new Era...

When Dan and I decide to sell our previous house, one of the things I hoped to find in a new place was a neighborhood with kids for Max and Luke to play with. I remembered fondly playing with the neighbors across the street and across the commons area of the house I grew up in, and wanted my boys to have that same opportunity. The knock on the door with the "Can ____ come and play?" followed by squeals of laughter from neighboring backyards and shouts of "See you tomorrow!" at the day's end.

But I wasn't ready for it quite yet.

On Thursday, while I was out, two of our neighbor children came by to see if Max could come and play. Dan was a little unsure about the whole thing, so he wisely agreed, but he went also. They ended up jumping on the trampoline in a backyard a just across the culdesac, while Dan watched on with the mother of the home. Both Luke and Max loved it - and were so excited to have new friends that lived so close. When I got home and heard about the evening's events, I was happy for the boys, and thought that it was sweet that the neighbor kids thought to include them.

On Friday, the kids were back ringing the doorbell. This time I followed along, and watched the kids play together. Both neighbors (one girl and one boy) are 6 years old, and in first grade. And boy, did they seem A LOT older than my tiny 4 year old. I stood there, in the neighbor's backyard watching them play, and wondered if we were doing the right thing by letting Max play with them.

Saturday they came by a couple times, but both times Max wasn't able to go out. This didn't sit well with Max, and I started to see how this could be a problem. Was I going to have to go with him every time he wanted to play? If I was, then he wasn't going to be able to go very often, because I have other things to get done at home. The other parents' weren't always right there - just like I won't always be once my kiddos hit that age, but at what point is Max able to go play on his own a couple of houses away? And how much do I need to know about the neighbors to feel comfortable with him at their homes?

Today they were back. Three times. The third time I went to the father of one child, and asked about the "policy" for kiddos coming to his house. He said that Max was welcome any time, and that they all just keep an eye out. They shot baskets in his driveway for a while, and then Max invited them to come over here and play. They all played upstairs and in the backyard for a while, and then asked to go to the other neighbor's home. I decided to try and relax a little, and give it a shot. I told all three kids that Max needed to be home in 10 minutes, and could the big kids walk him back, please? Sure enough, in 10-15 minutes, they all came back across the street to drop Max off for the day.

Max appeared to have a good time, and can't wait to play again. And if the pattern holds true, I bet we'll hear the doorbell tomorrow night sometime.

Now Dan and I just have to figure out the rules for this kind of thing. How often, where, when, and how long? Any suggestions? Because, really, we weren't ready for this....


Itty_Bitty_Wittes said...

When I was growing up it was any day before 6pm was okay except Sunday was off limits. My parents wanted one quiet day a week where the doorbell wouldn't be ringing all of the time. We also had to let them know where we were going and we had to ask before we could go into any house. (both parents)

Erin said...

Wow! This doesn't seem possible. I understand why you're a little caught off guard. Use your gut, you have a good one.

j.yue said...

oh boy. i too would feel a little aprehensive but then again my neighborhood gang was TIGHT! my best friend growing up all the way to college was my neighbor boy. i lived in a cul-de-sac and but my mom was a teacher to third graders so she always invited the kids to play at our house. we had a playroom and she just puttered around the house doing chores but could also hear everything we talked about, etc. in the summer i recall her being the cook at lunchtime when we played "restaurant".
i think at this point i might limit my kids time to a shorter time. maybe a half hour. i don't know. i think 10 min was smart until you get to know the families more. we ran into some issues in my hood with the much older kids who babysat. i learned way too much way too early from them. so like your sis says. go with your gut. you do have a good one i agree.

j.yue said...

oh also, i feel max is a super in tune with himself kind of guy and that will serve him well. and he tells you stuff which is great for you. i know when i was little or even now, when i feel yucky about something, i want to go home. i always fled the scene when things were yucky, be it parents fighting, or sibling fights, etc. man, i just feel so protective of our little guys megan!