Friday, June 23, 2017

Life lessons from neighbor kids


Clearly Collin and his friends were taking Boy Scout camp seriously.





Neighbor kids have been a big part of our summer.  They wander in our house at all times of the day, sometimes still clad in their pajamas.  Our refrigerator and pantry seem to be communal.  I think our couches have imprints of their backsides.  Sleepovers are not uncommon, and usually are decided on the fly.  Backyard soccer games, driveway basketball scrimmages, and indoor movies fill the hours.

Neighbor kids are a blessing, but with that blessing comes the inevitable conflict and "growth opportunity."

On Wednesday my phone buzzed right before bed.  It was my neighbor on the other end of the line.  She was pleasant and sweet, as expected.  But she wanted to let me know about an "incident" that happened between her daughter and one of my (unnamed to protect the guilty) sons.  My neighbor and I agreed years ago that we had an open relationship, meaning we'd always be open and transparent on the kids' goings-on in the yard and our homes.

Evidently, a "burn battle" began in the back yard.  (No fire was involved, this sort of "burn" is a tit-for-tat roasting/joking session.) The battle centered on "yo momma" jokes where the weight and hygiene status of each mother was discussed.  (Thank you sweet son for always making me feel special and loved.) While my son thought it was hilarious, the neighbor girl took these words to heart.

As an act of allegiance to her mother, she challenged my son to a "kick fight."  A kick fight is just what it sounds like, a fight where only kicking is involved.  What could go wrong?  My son accepted the challenge and evidently both parties took some blows.

The interesting thing is my son never mentioned the burn battle or the kick fight.  He waltzed into the house without an ounce of angst or despair.  It either didn't register as traumatic in his mind or the kick fight solved their squabble (problem solved).

The next day, we had a big talk about fighting with the girl.  But she started it, he cried.  Regardless, we said.

I've often told the boys that they will be great college roommates one day because they've experienced the joys and challenges of siblings.  There's nothing like siblings to teach you how to share, resolve conflict, deal with irritations, and be empathetic.  But I also think these encounters with neighbors are growth opportunities.  They are teaching my boys how to get along and deal with differences that come with other genders, value systems, and behaviors.  

The life lesson we learned this week is kick fighting is never ok, especially with a girl.  Who knew this was a life lesson that needed to be taught.




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