Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Wall That Neighbors Built

LAP here. For the new readers, I am MEP’s younger and less literary-focused sister. It’s been a while since my last guest post, as MEP’s hubby likes to remind me. Since they are still busy with Baby Boy as well as Bub, the world’s most active and freakishly strong two year old*, I will try to fill in the gaps in her postings until her maternity leave is declared over.

So, over the weekend, it was operation neighborly bonding. We live in a nice little suburban neighborhood with roughly 50 houses. My husband and I moved into the house six years ago, before we had children. I’ll never forget the first day I drove by the bus stop on my way to work and saw a sea of blue and white, comprised of about 50 young grade school children (Catholic schooling is big in this neck of the woods). We assumed that with such a large child population, the neighborhood would be bustling with activity. That hasn’t exactly been the case. There is the occasional kickball game in the cul-de-sac, the annual pre-trick-or-treat gathering, and periodic bonfires on the neighbor’s driveway, but the reality is that families are busy with sporting events, two parents working, etc. so we haven’t really become BF’s with many of our neighbors.

However, we are very good friends with the family two doors down. They have two small children as well so our social lives run pretty parallel. The great news for us is that these friends of ours are putting in a pool. Part of this process involved putting up a retaining wall in their backyard. So, on Saturday my husband set his alarm for 5:55am to allow himself time to dress, grab two Gatorades and head two doors down to begin the wall building process before it got too hot. Trusty future pool owner M was there ready to start as well, which reflects the sort of reliable folks they are.

About 10am, I went out on our deck to survey the work in their backyard and saw a somewhat glorious sight. Not only were my husband (BB) and M working hard, but several other neighbors had stopped by and were helping as well. A sampling of the demographic included a guy who came over after his 72-mile cycle that morning and his 12 year old son who I estimate at about 80 pounds. The girls and I walked down to survey the situation, and my husband’s eyes lit up as he told me that the eighteen year old kid across the street was going to come help scoop gravel after lunch and the lad’s father was going to man the level to make sure everything stayed even. The teamwork persisted until about 3:30pm, with only one short lunch break. It looks great, and we were told that BB’s sweat equity earned us a lifetime membership to the pool, NTB.

I feel the need to also point out that M’s wife called and also stopped by our house during the day to thank me for the use of my husband. This may make him sound like property, but she gets what many people don’t. NTB, but BB is a helpful sort of guy. However, what people seem to forget is that every time he is helping to shovel snow, fix siding on a house, get his company truck to move yet another relative, or pick up mulch for a truckless neighbor, I am at home with our two darling but sometimes emotional girls. Selfish as it may sound, I grow weary of hearing how nice and helpful my husband is with no acknowledgement that I have given up a Saturday of having him around to help me in return. Of course, in this case it was absolutely worth it, with or without M’s wife thanking me. They would help us with anything we ever needed and have on many occasions.

So, the countdown to the grand opening of the pool is on. M has declared himself the “unofficial fastest swimmer in the neighborhood” though he has no formal swimming experience. My husband has told him that he believes that title should belong to me. I’m less concerned about the title (though I do secretly covet it) and more focused on my future of sitting around the pool with a nice cold beverage. Who knows, maybe some other neighbors will join as well and the bonding will continue…

* Being the mother of a two year old and being surrounded by others that age on a regular basis, I feel secure in making such a claim.

8 comments:

CaraBee said...

We live directly across from an elementary school and I never see kids in the neighborhood. It's kind of weird, actually. Like where do they go when they're not in school? Continuing on that theme, we know almost none of our neighbors. Maybe we should put in a pool to see if we can get some community spirit going.

MEP said...

I keep saying how I'm ready to move to the suburbs so I can get to know more of my neighbors. I picture Bub and Baby Boy playing marathon games of Red Rover and kickball in our backyard and doing the old "Boys, time to come in from dinner" from the back porch. I hate to think that the life I am craving no longer exists.

Until we move, I will try to be more appreciative of the fact that if I ever want to see masses of kids playing outside, I just need to walk to one of the city's many nearby playgrounds.

LAP, excellent work pointing out that your own sacrifices underwrites BB's opportunities to be helpful. I find myself resentful sometimes when projects around my own house keep hubby occupied and unable to help with the boys. Fortunately (?), he is not often called upon to help others out on household and outdoor projects.

MEP said...

Two things I just had to correct:

"Boys, come in for dinner."

"sacrifices underwrite"

Actchy said...

I wish I knew what a retaining wall was.

I do think this sounds like the beginning of a neighborhood good-will fest. I'd bet that your neighbors were all itching to get to know each other better, but awaiting an opportunity. I am reminded of how my dad used to pull his car into the driveway and open the hood of his car on Saturday mornings when the family first moved to Jersey, because he wanted to make friends and knew this was a sure-fire way to attract the local men. PS, there was seldom anything wrong with his car.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, that it was nice of M's wife to thank you. Often people get so focused on what they want/need that they seldom consider the inconvenience to others. For example the move will be cheaper with BB help and truck. The good news is what you put out in the universe is going to be coming right back to you. m

E... said...

I feel your pain on the lack of neighbor love. A family with EIGHT children is rumored to have moved into my cul-de-sac. I keep taking nonchalant walks down that way pushing O. on his trike, hoping to catch a glimpse of a possible teenage babysitter or a mom more crazed than me to hang out in my driveway. I try not to notice the "Smile, your mom chose life" bumper sticker on the 20 person van parked in their driveway.

Anonymous said...

M's wife here - I am infinetly grateful for the wall that neighbors built. We took our first dip in the pool together as a family yesterday and are looking forward to the years of memories that await.......

Tivona said...

Great work.

 
Blog Designed by : NW Designs