Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Village

Recently I've read a lot about people longing for the village that it takes to raise a child.  Some of the things I've read talk about how women before working used to step in and help each other out. Others talk about how distopian our society has become. Many are nostalgic and long for an era when children ran about until sunset (during the summers) playing. Of course, they came home for supper, but then right back out they went until the street lights came on.

And as I've read each and every one of these articles, I've had to stop myself from wanting to scream so recreate it. The village still exists! It does y'all! I live in it.

At the beginning of our summer, Ella Rose asked me not to plan anything. I balked! I was shocked. What would we do? Wouldn't she get bored. And then, I paused. I contemplated and I sounded the idea off my momma. Give it to her, she urged. My momma went on to tell me, that if Ella Rose was asking for an unscheduled summer at five years old, that said something. And it did. So I gave it to her! We've not done day camps. We've not planned out our days. We've enjoyed these long lazy days of summer, and truthfully I wish they'd last forever. Well, mostly I wish that. I also wish my house could stay cleaner during them, but you can't get all your wishes granted at the same time. So for now, I'll focus on summer and children playing.

We've been particularly blessed in our neighborhood. We have ten children in three houses. All the children are under ten. And they have an absolute ball! Even the smaller ones. My three year old can barely get her breakfast eaten before she's ready to play with her friends. And play she does. ALL.DAY.LONG!  In and out of the houses the children go. Back and forth between the yards.

Snacks are consumed everywhere. Each family contributes a little and I suspect the children graze on an off all day. They eat jello at one home. Then popcorn from a second. Popsicles from a third and so the cycle goes. Each house feels like home, to every child.

Some of the children knock on all the doors. Others, walk in without knocking on any. If any of them are hurt, they simply run for the nearest adult. If a child does something wrong, all the others jump to tell on them. And they have grand adventures. Jumping on  trampolines, throwing rocks in the creek, searching for and capturing tadpoles. Water fights! Creating wade pools in sandboxes. Playing house, or puppy dog. Hanging with friends until the street lights come on.

It's wonderful! I may have only two children, but many days I get to enjoy many, many more. And my girls may only have one sister apiece, but they are living a life where they are two of ten!

As for the Mommas in the neighborhood, we all have our own struggles and schedules. Both the other moms are in school, so I'm the only full time Mommy. But having those friends close by is grand!

Need a cup of sugar? Simply walk next door. Better yet, send a child to get it for you. Out of toilet paper? No worries. A neighbor will have some extra. But that's not all. Each of the three houses contributes to the food in the others and I don't just mean snacks. One Mom has a source for free farmers market food. So when she stops by there she picks up extra for the other two moms. Another mom knows about a shipping/packing vegetable plant that allows the public to collect non-grade A food fo
r free. So she regularly brings back more fresh veggies for all the homes. The third home plans adventures for the children: Easter egg hunts, water balloon fights, ice cream sundae parties, movie nights.

Each home plays a central role in our village. And each person helps to make it what it is. When we need a listening ear, there's a neighbor there. If a dog gets out of the fence. No worries, a neighbor will help round her up. Long day, or busy cleaning house. Send the kids to the neighbors for a bit. Need to run an errand and don't need your helpers tagging along.  Leave your children playing with their friends (at a neighbors) outside in the neighborhood under another mommas watchful eye.

Amazingly, it works. And awesomely our village has extended to our church. All ten children now are attending the same church. Interestingly enough, none of the households send their children to the same schools.

And as I ramble along I can't help but think. This is what I've longed for. This is what a village should look like. And I can't help but be thankful, that God has enabled each of us to play our part in this village.

Villages aren't dead. They exist today. I live in one. Take a good look around. Knock on your neighbors door. Send your kids out to play. You just might discover that you live in a village too.

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