Finding hope at a bar-b-que

There are days that I can’t even watch the news because of how divided it portrays the world to be. And that division is only perpetuated by us staying in our homes, glued to our TVs and computers filling our heads with what THEY want us to believe is true about ourselves.

BUT I HAVE HOPE that we are free-thinkers, that we are BETTER than we are made to believe.

But the only way we’re going to come together is through HUMAN CONTACT.

Our neighborhood had an impromptu bar-b-que on Memorial weekend. Two of them, in fact.

But on a Sunday and a Monday evening there we were: swatting at mosquitos with virtual strangers.

We didn’t know most of the neighbors, except to wave “hello” as we pass them in a car, and some lived on other streets, so even that doesn’t usually happen.

It took a generous neighbor with a really good bar-b-que and an excellent marinade recipe for chicken and ribs, to bridge the divide.

We were from different backgrounds, different nationalities, different political affiliations (I assume – no one discussed politics – hallelujah!), and in different stages of life.

We passed around the fussing baby so that the new mom could eat her dinner in peace. We found out that two people worked for the same corporation and never knew it. We talked about where we were from and where we grew up. We discovered we vacationed in the same places. We laughed and ate and made new friends.

On Sunday night, the bar-b-que went until 2am! On Monday, we only made it until 10pm.

So when the news tells me that my neighbor doesn’t think the way I do, I know the news is full of crap. I know they want headlines. They want us to hate, because it makes us watch them more.

But all it takes is a simple neighborhood bar-b-que to prove them wrong.

People are people, no matter where you go. People transcend politics, and headlines, if we’d stop buying into the hype and look up from our Smartphones long enough to smile.

We need each other. We need more bar-b-ques.

I think the men and women whose lives we celebrated on Memorial Day would have been proud to know that they didn’t die in vain. Good neighbors do still exist. People do still want to connect and reach out to one another.

Looking forward to celebrating summer and hanging out together…in spite of the mosquitoes.

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The Neighborhood Rules – Practicing for Life

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When we first moved in to our neighborhood 4 years ago, there were only 4 kids: 2 of mine, and the neighbor’s 2. But since the last year, the neighborhood is now booming with kids! On my short street alone we have 13 kids! Finally we have a good old suburban neighborhood, which is exactly what we were hoping for when we moved here.

Right now, my son is out playing with the other kids in the neighborhood (ages ranging from 6 to 15). He’s eleven, and we’re in a small townhome area, so I feel pretty secure about him running around. I can hear them from my open window and see them run past every now and then.

I spent the first few years that we were here outside with him while he played with friends. Mostly I was the “Car Watcher:” I was the one yelling “CAR!” every time someone drove into our neighborhood, training my kids and the others to get out of the road and be aware of their surroundings. Now I hear them doing the same thing and teaching the younger ones to get out of the road.

We laid out a very specific set of rules for playing in the neighborhood:

  1. Stay off of people’s property
  2. Don’t play around cars (moving or parked)
  3. Leave the area the same, if not better, than it was when you got there
  4. Don’t go in anyone’s house without telling me first
  5. Watch out for the younger kids in the group
  6. Don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in your own yard
  7. Someone is probably watching what you’re doing – be good
  8. Don’t chase the ball into the street
  9. Be courteous of neighbors and cars
  10. If you break something (God forbid) be accountable for your behavior

I realized that these rules can be applied to life as well. Playing outside prepares them for life, but it’s done without sitting them down and lecturing them. Once they have a good set of ground rules, it’s the best way for them to learn their limits.

These are skills that they will never learn sitting in front of a computer screen. These are childhood survival skills: get out of the road when a car comes, don’t shoot the neighbor’s car with a Nerf dart, throwing rocks will damage property and people (so will dirt clods, pine cones, and sticks), climbing trees is both exercise and fun, dirt won’t hurt, made-up games are often more fun than organized sports, and getting up when you fall will make you stronger.

Being outside, and playing with friends is probably the best “interactive” experience a kid can have. The best part is that not a single kid is running around with their phone in their hand. Not even the older sibling that shows up on occasion to toss the football around with them.

I’ve witness acts of kindness the older ones have shown to the younger kids: tying shoes, holding hands so that they can stay with the group, teaming up with an older kid when playing hide-and-seek, and making sure everyone is accounted for when a car comes by.

Here’s hoping everyone gets out to play in the sun!