Ah, a gorgeous spring day, the birds are chirping, the branches are swaying and my son is, get this, playing outside with THE NEIGHBORS. Lord behold the glorious beauteous opening of the heavens. I want to shout it from the rooftops, goody goody gumdrops... my son is playing outside with, might I say it once more, the neighborhood kids! There are four of them bouncing a ball on a chalked up street -- a good ol’ game of four square. From my perched office window I can type (leaning to the right) while looking out onto their glorious happy faces. Behold, they are laughing!!!
Aren’t we all tired of listening to the beleaguered moms (mea culpa), going on about the dearth of play dates, the quiet streets, the way it used to be? Well, I am at this very moment witnessing a street scene right out of the 1950s. Wait, wait... there are two more kids and what’s this... now another on her bike, hold up... here comes one running with his arms flailing -- his obvious excitement in seeing all these kids. Eight children! I’m afraid I sound like the nanny in "101 Dalmatians"... 15 puppies!!! This is not common -- it takes the sun and moon aligning to see all these wonderful kids together on this street at one time.
I know these children well. My six-year-old son has played with most of them at one time or another -- especially Coltrane who is also six, and his older brother Alistair. But Coltrane has chess on Friday, tennis and t-ball on Saturday, swimming on Sunday. He’s in private school and doesn’t come home until six each evening. I’ve finally caved in and put my own son in chess on Friday and t-ball on Saturday just so he can see Coltrane. I’ve seen them tired, coming home from all their activities as they pass a wistful glance to the street then dutifully march in for their dinner and homework at the late hour. I’ve seen their little faces light up as they ask each other to come over, only to be interrupted by the grownups with the scheduled litany.
But today is for them. If only everyone would just be a slacker mom like me, these kids would have fun like this everyday. I’ve thought of it -- Camp Lori -– it’s free, send over your children, I’ll put out the red cones, the ice cream cones, give out juice -- chances are your kids will survive. It’s now seven in the evening. Two girls are on bikes, six boys playing four square. I see the boys negotiating who is out, who needs to stand on the sidelines, if the ball was in. It’s my son’s turn on the sidelines, I see him laughing and begging to be put in the game as he keeps jumping up to grab the ball from an older boy’s grip... ah, learning the rules, working the system, getting along. How can they possibly get this if not on the street? Oh no... here comes a mom, arms folded, looking stern. Hmm... she appears to be weighing the wisdom of removing her son. Will she go with her better instincts and allow the setting sun to end their play? No she’s still standing, observing. Go away, mom. Let them be. Happy days -- she is leaving. Now there’s a smart mom. It’s now eight o’clock. My son hasn’t eaten yet. They are beginning to disperse. And he’s in -- home. His cheeks are ruddy, he’s animated, and he’s had a good day.
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