There are days when I get home and foot of my driveway is scattered with bikes, scooters, sticks, and all sorts of things. Just yesterday when I got home I walked into the house and could see one of my sons best friends standing on the back deck looking in. Of course he was looking for his buddy; disappointment set in when he realized we were just stopping in for a moment. My home has become the hub for all the neighborhood kids and I really must say I love it. Growing up my moms house was that way, all of our friends would always come over. I grew up the oldest of four children so when you get friends from each of us it tends to be big crowd pretty easily. My mom welcomed it as long as we stayed outside, didn’t run in and out of the house, and weren’t eating up all her food. I’m sure I sound just like her when telling my son those same things.
What makes me the happiest is seeing all the kids play and laugh together. They haven’t yet been tainted by the world we live in. They don’t see their skin colors as defining things, they don’t talk about politics, they don’t care what kind of jobs each others parents have, or even worry about cars they ride in. At this age they live in bliss. They live in a bubble of love and acceptance. My sons friends are a beautiful mix of what life really is. Some of his friends speak Spanish as primary language, he has a friend from a single parent household, he has mixed friends, he has friends younger than him and he has friends older him. They embrace each other’s differences and they are inquisitive and love learning about each other. One friend wants to teach me spanish and another friend ate fried chicken for the first time at my house. When they tasted my fiances fried fish for the first time I think they fell in love. The kids come to the house take their shoes off at the door and come right in. If I’m cooking they sit at the table and eat. I’m pretty sure everyone even knows my dog and not just because she ate their trash one time.
I don’t know all the parents in my neighborhood but they all wave and say hello. We have a mutual understanding that our kids love each other and we’re looking out for all of them. At least that’s how I feel. I hope the kids always know my home is a safe place for them. I hope my son always knows that he belongs to a neighborhood that loves him. As a mama my job isn’t just to look out for my own kids, its to love your kids too. If your babies are at my house I can promise you that they will be loved, if they are hungry I am going to feed them, it’s just the right thing and the Southern thing to do, and if they’re thirsty I’ll offer them water from the hose but I’ll give them bottled because bless their spoiled hearts they have no idea what drinking from the hose is like. They looked at me very judgingly when I told them we did it as kids all the time.
The neighborhood. It’s their safe place. It’s their home. It’s where they will learn the most about life. And at my house, in my hood, I can promise you my babies will learn to love your babies. At my house all they will know is acceptance and understanding. They will also probably at some point eat some fried chicken and cornbread. Also, I promise to keep my baby Roux (my dog) out of your trash from now on).