Growing up, we had a neighbor who would come outside and yell at us to keep off his lawn. Then he would watch us from his living room window to make sure we stayed off his lawn. I remember my parents telling us that our neighbor spent a lot of time making sure his lawn was very nice and that we should respect that and stay off the lawn. So, we did, well as best as kids running around a neighborhood can be expected to remember to stay off the neighbor’s lawn.
Now as a parent, I find myself faced with a similar situation. However, this time the answer is not as simple as the one my parents gave me to just stay off the neighbor’s lawn.
In my neighborhood, there are 7 kids that get on the bus together in the morning and off the bus together in the afternoon. My son is one of those kids. After school, all of the kids love to play together outside until it’s time for dinner. There is, at the very least one parent outside keeping an eye on the kids. More often than not there are two parents looking out for the kids as they play. These are good kids who like to ride their bikes and scooters, run around chasing each other
and use their imaginations to make up new games to play. After playtime is
over, everyone goes in for dinner and homework.
One of my neighbors, however, is less than thrilled when the bus arrives each afternoon delivering nuisance children back to his block. This neighbor, we’ll call ‘Grinch’, had asked the parents that we keep the kids quiet while playing outside. Being good neighbors, we asked the kids to not shout so much and try to be quieter especially when playing near the ‘Grinch’s’ home.
Nothing further was said on the matter, so we thought that any issue there was had been resolved until the recent newsletter from our association was received. At the end of the newsletter was a paragraph asking parents to refrain from allowing their children to play outside and instead take the children to a park to play because, after all, that is what parks are for. The ‘Grinch’ was asking for a
rule to be made severely restricting any playtime outside for the neighborhood
kids. As more and more neighbors read the newsletter, the majority of them came outside as the kids were playing to assure me that the kids were well behaved and to forget about the comments in the newsletter. We all knew who had complained to the association and who was asking for the ‘no play rule’ to be written.
As a parent and former child, I understand that there will always be people who do not share in the joy of playing with kids or letting kids be kids. Right now we are telling the kids at school, on billboards and on television to go outside and move around and play. Unless you are ignoring it, I am sure you have heard of at
least one initiative focused on getting kids up and moving for 30 to 60 minutes
of play each day. So, I am bothered by the fact that one individual in our
neighborhood seems to think that the neighborhood kids are ‘bad’, for running
around and playing outside. It makes me sad to think that knowing how good it
is for kids to play together outside in their neighborhood, allowing them to
feel a part of a community, get some exercise and fresh air, and make friends that they will remember for the rest of their lives, that one person wants to take
that away from our children. On the other hand, it makes me very happy to see
the rest of the neighbors rallying around the kids and encouraging them to
continue playing outside.
This is one case where one rotten apple or neighbor as the case may be, did not spoil the rest of the bushel. I hope everyone can enjoy some time outside today and say ‘Hi’ to your neighbors while you are out there.