Children of the Neighborhood Corn

Erin Britt essays

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They come walking over, no hesitation, just straight to us. They see us and are drawn to us like a moth to flame. As soon as we park the van in front of our skeleton of a house, they are there.

The kids of our soon-to-be new neighborhood come out of nowhere and ascend on our dirt-covered front yard.

As Hubby checks out the building progress on our new home, our four boys climb the huge dirt pile next to the construction site. The dirt pile and new kids to play with draw out the neighborhood children.

As the kids climb the dusty mound and throw clumps of dirt at one another, adults begin to walk over as well. They are smiling and curious and hopeful that the people building this house will actually be good neighbors.

Our current neighborhood is pretty quiet. Confession: I like it that way. Neighbors keep to themselves except for a wave in passing. There aren’t many kids around knocking on our door or invading our backyard. I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s child getting hurt in my backyard. And I don’t have to worry about other kids tormenting my ten-year-old who is socially awkward.

I’m scared to move. Frankly, I’m afraid we’ll move next to someone undesirable and have one of those neighborhood horror stories other people have.

But, we live on a busy thru street that’s both on a hill and a curve, and I fear for my sons’ safety when they are playing outside. This is partly why we are moving. Our new street is flat and secluded. I have visions of them riding bikes until dark and playing kick ball in the street and never worrying about them chasing a runaway basketball.

We meet the new neighborhood kids’ parents. We shake hands and share names and soon small talk turns into real talk and genuine excitement about our move.

The kids’ play moves from the dirt pile to running down the street toward someone else’s home. The kids all follow one another, oblivious to any social norms or formalities. The adults move with the kids, and continue to talk and exchange pleasantries.

We’re all enjoying ourselves as the sun begins to set behind our new house. Rays peak through the frame, telling us it’s time to go home.

I begin to feel really excited for the first time about our move. Lots of kids our kids’ ages to play with, neighbors who are fun, kind, and accepting. It doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

As we drive away and wave at our soon-to-be-new neighbors, I start to relax and put away some of the fears that I have about moving somewhere new.

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About the Author

Erin Britt

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