Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Learning to be a good neighbor from a child

Christmas Tree is Up!

For about two months, we've lived in the "country."  By country, I mean we no longer live in a neighborhood.  Our mailing address consists of a series of numbers and directions.  Farm fields run along the back of our property.

We do have two neighbors that live on either side of our home.  Upon moving into our home, one set of neighbors quickly made their introductions.  They are a friendly young couple with a baby on the hip and a toddler racing around the yard.  They welcomed us into their "neighborhood," but warned that the neighbors on the other side of our home were not, shall we say, "social."

The neighbors' warning came as no surprise to our family.  By the appearance of the house alone, we had reservations on whether these neighbors would welcome us with open arms.  The home could best be described as a warehouse-like structure.  Rarely, if ever, did I see anyone outside the home.  With my runaway imagination, I wandered if they were stockpiling weapons or creating some sort of militia group within the walls (which we wouldn't be able to see because the house lacks many windows).  
We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be neighbors who merely coexisted in close proximity to each other lacking any sort of relationship.  

Yesterday, Cooper and I decided to walk through the farm field behind our property.  As our feet crunched the broken corn husks, Cooper gazed at the warehouse home.

"Let's go meet the neighbors," he proclaimed.  "And bring them cookies."

I tried to talk him out of it.

"They look busy," I guessed.

"What if they have weapons," I warned.

"Wouldn't that be a better activity for another day," I suggested.

Cooper would not waiver on his resolution to make our acquaintances.

We grabbed a plate of homemade cookies sitting on our counter and piled them on a paper plate.  Then, we made the (seemingly) long walk over to the warehouse.  Cooper raced ahead, while I lagged behind battling the multitude of reservations bubbling in my mind.

He rang the bell and knocked on the door to ensure our presence was known.  Within seconds, a man appeared.

He wasn't clutching a weapon or wearing fatigues.  He didn't appear gruff.  In fact, he looked completely normal with a welcoming smile.  After happily accepting the paper plate of cookies, we began a series of small talk and introductions.  Slowly my built up anxiety began to wane and a feeling of shame grew in my heart.  It took my 11 year old to teach me to be a good neighbor, look past the outer appearances, and work past fear.

I walked back to our house with a feel of gratefulness for a son who taught me a lesson in the true meaning of how to love a neighbor.  

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