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National Night Out

August 3, 2010

Today we spent the day with my mom at The Mall of America.  She took us out to lunch at The Rainforest Cafe, and then we went school clothes shopping.  Not my favorite activity, so I am glad it is over.  Well, almost over, Nicholas needs a couple more long-sleeved shirts, then we’re good to go.  It was a HOT day again today.  So it was nice to be in the Mall where it was cool.

This evening, it was “National Night Out.”  Where neighborhoods have giant potlucks and get together to catch up.  It is really the only time we see our neighbors socially, and my kids LOVE IT.  One of our neighbors organizes an “olympics” for the kids.  They do a couple of art projects and then play some games.  There were nine kids there, and three teams of three competing.  After the games she arranged with a neighbor with a pool to have the kids swim for a bit.  They had a blast.  A couple of weeks ago, she had all of the kids over to make their medals and these medals were presented to them at the dinner.  After dinner all the kids (even the big kids that didn’t participate in the olympics) started up a game of kickball in the cul-de-sac.  We all sat in the lawn chairs and chatted, eating too many bars that were too tempting to ignore.  It was a very nice evening.  Once the mosquitoes came out (with a vengeance!) Jeff and I high-tailed it home leaving the kids to play a little longer.  When we saw the clock (9:30!) we waited a few minutes before walking back to get them.  Nicholas was mad because they were just about to start a game of Ghosts in the Graveyard.  Katie was happy that we were there.  Now they are waiting for us to tuck them in and say goodnight.  It has been a long day for them.  And for me too.  But a good day.

As the kids were playing all together after dinner, I thought, “Look at all the kids in the neighborhood!”  I had this misconception that we had no kids in the neighborhood.  Most of the kids are older, in high school, or middle school.  But they were kind and let the young kids (mine and two other kids Sarah’s age visiting from out-of-town) play too.  It reminded me of my neighborhood when I was little.  We were outside all day everyday, it seems.  We spent our time at the park or in each other’s houses or yards.  There was a large age range in my neighborhood too, and I was the youngest.  After dinner we would play kick the can, or kickball, until our moms called us in for baths.  It was always after dark.  I don’t know if I could let go enough to send my kids out in the neighborhood where I couldn’t see them.  But I long for them to feel the freedom that I had growing up.  We had enough space to make our own mistakes and to fix them in a hurry.  We also had to figure out how to get along, and how to include everyone.  It was good experience.  Kids don’t really have that experience anymore.  We are all so scared that some child abductor is around the corner.  It is a valid concern.  We all hear of the scary things that happen in the news.  But I can wish that it wasn’t that way, right?  I can wish that I could say, “Sure, just be home a few minutes after dark.”  And not panic.  I don’t think I can say “Sure” to that.  But after tonight, if the right person knocked on our door, and asked to whisk my kids down the cul-de-sac, I think I might just say yes.

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8 Comments
  1. August 4, 2010 7:23 am

    I’ve never heard of that! What a great event-it sounds like you have a great neighborhood for that! Great to feel that sense of community.

    • August 4, 2010 8:34 pm

      It is really nice. I just wish that sense of community happened more often. It seems like we all stay in our own houses, and hardly ever see anyone. Except on National Night Out~ Ha!

  2. August 4, 2010 8:03 am

    I never heard of National Night Out either, but I used to love our big block parties. They don’t have those here, sadly, though there has been a crayfish party in the neighborhood that we have missed every single time the past several years. And aaah! Ghost in the Graveyard! I LOVED that game!

    • August 4, 2010 8:36 pm

      I loved those games played after dark too! It made everything kind of dangerous. I wish I could have played!

      I think National Night Out is basically the same thing as a block party. You can just close the street down, and sometimes you can get a police car or fire engine to visit. We have never done any of that here though.

  3. August 4, 2010 9:47 am

    I loved running around with my neighborhood pals as a kid. We played street hockey, formed a “bike club,” explored the fields and creeks (and druggie hangouts), had climbing contests in the tallest trees, played hide and seek on the roofs, and chased each other around the ‘hood after dark. Would I be okay with my girls doing the same today? Uh… no.

    • August 4, 2010 8:39 pm

      It sounds like you had a LOT of fun! Too bad our kids are destined to have such a “safe” childhood. By the way, we used to climb on the school’s roof. How the heck did we get up there? I can’t remember. I do remember getting down was the trick!

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