When we moved to this house, there was a very precocious little boy a few houses down and an infant at a house in the opposite direction. Everyone else on the street was elderly or a college renter.
But we’ve been here for 11 years now and the little boy is a young man who likes to collect cars that need work, are loud, and proudly sport confederate flags. You know the type. The baby is now a middle schooler who wears untied shoes and fashionably ripped jeans. You know the type.
And the rest of the street? The demographic makeup has waxed and waned through the years, but at the moment, kids are plentiful. Obviously this is most apparent in the summer when there is no school and the sun sets late. In June, the kids from our closest neighbor were practicing gymnastics moves and the volume of their voices until 11 pm. The kids down the street – sometimes numbering more than a dozen – could be heard outside the screen door well past 10 most evenings, driving Monday crazy.
Our kids don’t know the neighbors. The homeschool weirdo in them is hesitant and a little judgemental. You know the type. They’ve rolled their eyes, complained about the late night noise, and questioned the parenting choices of their energetic peers.
Last night, as I put Penny to sleep, the boys on the corner were playing basketball as if their life depended on it. It was late and they were loud but it was a perfect summer evening. Tonight, however, the neighborhood was and is quiet. Tomorrow school will start and it was clear that routines were being followed, care-free evenings brought into check.
Except for our yard. Here there was shrieking and yelling and laughter. The four eldest gave the tramp a workout through the dusk and into the night. The little girls played in their cozy coupe and rode bikes. I’m doing my best to hang on to summer and all that it is because I know how long winter can be. The kids know it, too, but because of times like tonight, they don’t really understand how fleeting summer can be. They will carry on with our routine the same as (most) any other day around here when they wake up tomorrow. They’ll soon realize that Elizabeth won’t be available during the day and that they cant take to the streets on their bikes at any time. But tonight? Tonight they just did summer, unaware of the difference between them and their neighbors. And for that I was thankful.