As I’m stirring pancake batter, I hear Caleb and his new friend have moved outside, kicking a ball, laughing and screaming and chasing each other.
Later that day I find myself serving lunch to Caleb as well as our neighbor’s little girl and her cousin. They tell me “Ni meshiba” (I’m full), climb off their chairs and then go run off to play.
|Ashley was totally polite about my P,B and J, but not a fan|
After his nap, Caleb is back outside playing with his buddy Dan, the guard indulgently and good naturedly giving them rides up and down the compound on his motorbike. I sit with my neighbor, watching the kids play as we nurse our babies together.
|Don't worry grandma, he was only going like 5 mph|
I’m not intimately close with most of my neighbors (though some are becoming close friends), but there’s a sense of shared responsibility when it comes to children. I know that if Caleb happened to be playing in one of their homes over a mealtime, he would be fed. There would be no phone calls about it, it would just happen. I know that my son can wander in and out of my neighbors’ houses without worry that he is somehow disrupting the sanctity of anyone’s privacy, and I’ve come to welcome children to my home with the same openness. There are never any playdates but there’s a hell of a lot of playing.
Are scenes like this a fading reality in the US? Elsewhere? Do people create communities where this is possible? Or have we retreated further into our nuclear family cocoons?