My new neighbor needed a babysitter for her 3-year-old son so that she could attend a much-needed "mommies night out" with friends from her former Mom's Group, so she called me.
Since all I had on my plate for this particular Friday night was dog-sitting for my parents, I agreed. Plus, I figured that it would open the door for further sitter-exchanges in the future, you know, the "can you watch the kids while I run to the grocery store?" kind of exchanges.
Since we moved into this neighborhood almost 4 years ago, we've been sorely lacking in this type of neighbor. The kind of neighbor that has kids who run into your yard the moment they see you pull in the driveway. The kind of neighbor that doesn't mind if they see you taking the trash out in your jammies at midnight. The kind of neighbor that you can count on for help, any kind of help, when you need it.
Not that our neighbors have anything wrong with them, they don't. In fact, we're really quite lucky in the neighbor department. We have childless, awesome neighbors across the street that keep their lawn mowed on an insanely perfect schedule and always rake up the leaves and pick their weeds. They are super. We have a single woman and her dogs on one side of us who puts up with my kids and their hollering from their Big Toy in the backyard. She's a gem, and if it weren't for her love of "low maintenance" rockery, she would be perfect. On the other side of us resides a police officer, the city council president and their two perfect sons who never party when they're out of town and I'm sure would mow my lawn if I asked them to.
But it's never felt "homey" here, like it did in our old neighborhood.
Most of this is due to the fact that my kids aren't diapered toddlers anymore, running from house to house. It's also due to the fact that not only did we move, but so did our awesome neighbors. Some got divorced. Some moved to Texas! The neighborhood DNA changed dramatically and there is no way to get those carefree days of us moms standing our in the front yards (cocktails cleverly disguised as kool-ade in our hands) gossiping and wrangling our kids in the summer sunshine.
But with this first move, this gesture of "hey, I'll watch your kid tonight," things are starting to look up.
I found out that not only is my neighbor a cool chick, she is a fairly laid-back mom and to top it all off . . . she trusted me with her baby. So she obviously doesn't think I'm nuts or anything for letting my kids play outside like my former neighbor did!
But the best thing ever?
Her son is a doll. He and Katie are about 7 months apart and he has been putting up with her bossiness all night. But lo and behold, she had a meltdown over sharing the train blocks and I had to take her aside and explain that he is our guest and we need to share.
Zachary came over and, very gently, put both of his hands on her shoulders and said, "Tatie, wook at me - you need to mind yo mom, Tatie."
She said okay, and off they went to "pway uptairs".
I heard her ask him if he wanted to play with her kitchen stuff, and he answered, "O-tay."
Finally, normal neighbors.