I've lived in the same neighborhood my whole life. When we were little kids, the entire neighborhood was full of old people. There was actually a neighbor that complained because I rode my Big Wheel on the sidewalk and it was "too loud". So, yeah, not a lot of neighborhood kids to play with. I remember going to my friend's neighborhood just to have kids to play with outside. Over the years, those old people all died and young families bought their houses. So now the street we live on has lots of little kids on it. It's strange to me to see little kids riding Big Wheels in the driveway of Old Man So-and-So's house or Mrs. Old Lady's yard now full of lawn toys.
My parents know all of their neighbors reasonably well, in that "borrow the rototiller" kind of way. But we have lived in our new house for almost two years now and I'm just getting around to interacting with some of our neighbors. I feel like I'm courting our neighbors but am that shy kid in middle school who hasn't actually bothered to pass a note to anyone in homeroom but is frustrated I'm not sitting at the lunch table with everyone else.
When we first moved to the new house we had a Nosey Neighbor Open House. It was a surprising success as all the folks on our street happily tromped through our new home to see what we'd done with it before we filled it with furniture. But then months went by and we forgot everyone's names and we'd just wave as we drove past but not much more.
We know the names of everyone's dogs and everyone's kids because that's what they yell out in the yard. But suddenly we're referring to folks as "Fido's Daddy" because we don't remember their names. I just learned two weeks ago that our neighbor's name is Brent and I've been referring to him as Arty for over a year because his license plate says something like that on it. He looks more like an Arty to me than a Brent anyways.
I know what I want, but I'm not sure how to get there. I'd like to have our neighbors over maybe twice a year or so for a social event. I'd like to be comfortable enough returning stray pets and kids back to their yards and having the same done for us. I'd like to actually know the names of everyone who lives on our street. I'd like to feel like we're part of a community and not just a bunch of strangers sharing a zip code.
But how do we go about getting there? I've found having a kid makes it a little easier. We suddenly got an invitation to a Christmas party last year from neighbors with a baby similar in age to Ian. And just last week I had a great afternoon sitting in my 90-year-old next door neighbor's yard watching her tenants plant pansies while we sat with the baby. So slowly but surely we're making inroads to a community. I'm a super friendly person and happy to help anyone that needs it. So this shouldn't be so hard for me. Maybe we should just have a yearly Nosey Neighbor Open House.
I'm also optimistic that if all these kids stick around, Ian may have some other kids on our street to play with. If nothing else, I know our 90-year-old neighbor is cool enough she won't complain about Ian's eventual Big Wheel.