Friday, May 7, 2010

Boys and Girls

Violet has a lot of girlfriends.  It is no coincidence that I am also friends with the mothers of these girls. Which came first, the kid-ship or the Mama-ship?  I just invented two words.  There lies the problem.

Violet has complained long and loud about not having anyone to play with.  Oh sure, we have playdates, but that isn't what she means and it has taken me a long time to figure out why.  Those playdates, really are like date dates.  They are sometimes forced.  They are sometimes too long.  More importantly, they are always chaperoned.

Playdates with Vi's girlfriends double as Mommy dates. We don't mean to hover, but with eager younger siblings and needy babies and other mitigating circumstances, the playdates end up being too....well, supervised.  Kids need to run free and misbehave in benign ways.  They need the space to learn how to get away with stuff, like dumping clods of dirt on each others head.  They also need to learn how to make it known that they don't like the dirt shower, with their own voice.


The boys moved in next door almost 2 years ago.  We've always been friendly. Their Mom is pretty cool, but we each have shit to do and time passes and you just never get around to bringing over that welcome-to-the-neighborhood coffee cake.  No matter.  Small children can smell each other. They sense a willing playmate from a mile away and no fence will keep them apart.

Our neighborhood is "colorful" and I have always been a bit "paranoid", so we have a high chain-link fence around our whole yard and each of the gates has a padlock.  This keeps the marauding thieves from stealing my recyclables and broken lawn mower, but is also keeps other children out of my yard. Until the boys came along, I was just fine with keeping the local spawn out of my yard (remember Hannah?). 

The boys would not be kept out of the yard.  I spied them scaling the fence and decided to unlock the gates and let them in.  They are a bit older than Violet, but they are sweet and funny and appropriately gentle with their preschool playmate; without treating her like something fragile. 

And so, the tables have turned.  Violet and "her boys" have forced us Mommies to get to know each other better.  Last night, I stood in my steeply angled front yard and leaned on the decorative fence chatting with my new friend, while our children did things we would probably tell them not to do if we were really paying attention.

Long after the kids should have been embarking on their nightly rituals, we said goodbye and went in the house.  Violet paused in the living room for a moment, a layer of dirt visible on her scalp and said, "I miss the boys." 

I think it's going to be a nice summer.

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