It's a Family Tradition...

11/13/2008 11:06:00 AM Posted In Edit This 2 Comments »
Our stretch of the road has not had the best luck in producing "good" neighbors. We’ve had a man arrested for beating his wife, three children and two of their friends in a drunken stupor, we’ve had a brother of a neighbor jerk Sam from his bike by the back of his coat, we’ve had the DEA investigate a few of the houses…I could go on, but you get my point.

SO needless to say I am very leery of any new people moving in, which is usually every 6 months or so. On our side of the street at this particular stretch, we are the only family that doesn’t rent. I’m not implying that people who rent are below those who don’t or anything of the sort. I’m just saying in the last 8 years, I’ve seen many MANY types of folks move in and out of these 6 houses. Some good, some not so good.

Lizzie has befriended a little girl who is just a year older than she. Tabitha recently moved in 4 houses down with her mom and 2 sibilings. Robbie and I are usually very careful about letting either Sam or Lizzie go play at any of the 6 houses. On one occasion while playing with a child of a past tenant, Sam learned that causing a fight while drunk and subsequently getting arrested is automatically 24-hours in the hoosegow (different drunken stupor and different neighbor than the one stated above). Not exactly the sort of thing I want my kids to EVER find out, let alone when they are 11. So Lizzie’s new friend has been asking and asking if Lizzie could play. I still haven’t met the mom so I’d rather they play in our yard or at our house. Sam also has a new friend, Josh, who has moved in a few houses UP the street, also a renter district. We’ve met his mom and talked several times on the phone and they end up at one home or the other, which I’m fine with. And both kids are very polite, very sweet kids. No problems thus far. Both of them seem lonely, though.

Lately I’ve been coming home to not two kids, but four kids roaming around our house. Usually the boys are downstairs on the X-Box 360 and the girls are pestering Robbie or playing in Lizzie’s room. Somehow our house has turned in to the kid-fun house. Its fun actually and I like it. Last night was an all out pillow fight between the girls and Robbie. Josh couldn't come over but Sam was able to go play at his house.

Tabby’s mom doesn’t inquire much as to her whereabouts when she’s with us and I’ve never met her, nor has Robbie so I’ve wondered what type of home-life she has. I’m gathering from snippets of conversations that her parents are divorced, she has two younger siblings and her mom is a maid. The last few nights, she has been there as I’m getting dinner ready and I’ve invited her to eat with us since we have enough and she’s there already. The first night I had Lizzie start to set the table and as I was putting dinner on it, Tabby said “Whoa, we’re eating at the table? We’re sitting down? At the table?” And looked at me like I’d just asked her to remove her arms and sweep the floor with them. When I said, “Well. Yea!?!?” She thought that was the coolest thing she was ever going to be privy to. And she’s now had two consecutive dinners with us – I’m sure she’ll be there tonight, also. And tomorrow.

I try to get the family to sit down to dinner as many times as possible during the week which, depending on the week, can range from 0 nights to 7 nights. And lately, I’ve been pushing more for it and staying home due to economic constraints but to see a little girls’ delight at being able to sit down for a family meal was very enlightening. I believe those stories about family bonds being tied over the dinner table. And how it instills values in the kids that stay with them all their lives. And I am more than happy to help the little girl down the street, or the little boy up the street with that, even if it’s only a meal or two. Do families really not do this much anymore? Was she so in awe of the act of sitting down to dinner because her family just doesn't do it? Are they too busy? How sad to think a tradition as simple as a family dinner which could have such an impact on a young life has faded away. How like our rush-rush-gimme-it-now society to push something so influential out.

And to think I took for granted the fact that we ate supper as a family every single night of my childhood through my teens…


Elizabeth said...

Couple of comments: I'm glad you eat dinner with the fam. I know you've read the same things I have about how that simple ritual can improve your kids' lives.

And how very sad that Tabby doesn't have that at home! I'm glad you are opening your arms to her, and taking on another mouth to feed - especially when we're all tightening our belts a bit right now.

And I couldn't help but think while I was reading that it's the moms that make the world go round. I didn't learn this until I had a kid - once you have a kid, you start protecting even strangers' kids. Your heart stretches big and wide and makes room for taking care of other kids. Kind of like a momma bear of the world.

Good work, momma!

Anonymous said...

Motherhood is a really hard job. Just remember when you are older the sactifices are not nearly as bad as they seem at this time.
It's one helleva job with many, many rewards.