So many of you are familiar with the ongoing saga of neighbourhood children that have ended up hanging around for dinner at our house – frequently. I’m guilty for both complaining and feeding them. I could call my kids in more often. However, the weather is nice and they want to eat outside. I don’t blame them, I do too. We just can’t sit in front of hungry people (no matter how many manners they lack) and eat. It doesn’t feel right. Mealtime aside, I really want to comment on what these 3 kids are actually doing at our house.
They are playing.
Plain and simple, old fashioned games like house, tag, hide and seek or drawing with sidewalk chalk. Kids are flocking to our front step to borrow our chalk. Chalk people! They aren’t coming to borrow our iPad or watch our TV. The kids just want to play.
Our neighbourhood is not spectacular. Some of the unsupervised 6 and 7 year olds have caused trouble and make bad choices. Why are they hanging around our house where this mean Mom lives? The one who tells them to stop climbing on the roof or treating each other meanly. I’ll tell you why… they are desperate for boundaries and attention.
I don’t have to be playing house with them to be adding to the interaction. I have seen some manners start to emerge. I interject with reminders for appropriate conduct. Our girls love to play with these kids. They are showing up at our house at 4pm and not leaving until we pull our kids inside.
Sometimes when we leave, they ask if they can stay and play with our chalk or on our climber. They have actually started to put the things away when they are done, like we’ve asked.
At our local park (at the opposite end of the street) there was an arrest made recently for drug use. I can imagine that it must feel a little safer at our end and in our yard. These kids know that caring adults live in our house.
I’m all for letting kids play outside. Vitamin D and fresh air are essential, however, this doesn’t mean you don’t pay any attention to your kids. Simply letting them out to wander the neighbourhood isn’t the same as play.
Set up some boundaries (stay within these two yards), have expectations (ask before you go to a different yard) and check on them and in with them (where are you, what are you doing, is everything good).
Give them chalk and bubbles. Just watch them from the window or a chair close by. Be there when they need ice and bandages. Cut open the freezies and wrap them in a paper towel. If all else fails, check our house, your kids are probably here.