This year we live in the poorest neighborhood in which I've ever lived. There aren't a lot of open rental options in this town. And we're committed to living downtown where we can walk rather than drive to most places. This was the only apartment we found and the others that emerged later were comparable.
I step over and around dog poop most days on my way to work. I walk past houses that are in disrepair, inhabited, it appears, by hoarders. And our daycare is a disaster. It is worse than I imagined that daycares could be and has spiraled downhill since we started there. We intentionally chose a daycare we could walk to. Well, that, and it was the only one that had a space. There's another daycare in town that has spaces from time to time, and that one feeds them twix bars for snacks and sets them in front of a tv from 4-5 each day.
The child is occasionally bitten by one of his friends. He bears it with equanimity, and I can't really blame his friend. One day I heard the daycare staff whispering. From what I could pick up, it seemed that no parent came to pick the biter up and so his grandmother had to be called. He treats my kid like crap, but I can't really blame him at all.
The kids can't play outside at daycare because the daycare's yard is a mud pit. There are other issues.
But I didn't mean this as a rant against our neighborhood. I actually meant to write some nice things. Today while I was walking the kid home from daycare, two little girls with whom we often stop to chat ran toward us. They had some Valentine's candy leftover and wanted to share it with the kid. He picked out a red sucker and couldn't have been happier. The girls wanted to show me the rest of their haul, and they offered me the nicest candy they had, which of course I didn't take.
Their parents, once, when we'd walked by the every-Saturday yard sale in front of their house, insisted that we take a toy for the kid. They gave him a little bear holding a pencil. It was in honor of secretaries. I am ashamed to say I ran it through the dryer for a while when we got home.
The little girl has begged to go into her home to pick out a toy for the kid before, and I refused. There's only so much giving that you can handle without reciprocating.
There are many neighbors with disabilities who live nearby in what used to be a school. When the weather is nice they sit outside on some benches, and the kid and I stop sometimes to say hello and chat on the way home. I'm pretty sure that just being a neighbor is better than volunteering. Anyway, a kid is a good icebreaker. He likes the neighbors and they like him. One woman gave us a cross she stitched on plastic canvas. The kid loves crosses and carried it around our house for weeks. Another neighbor who has trouble speaking gave us a piece of paper with his name and thoughts. They've given us fudge left over from a potluck--a great treat at the end of a long day.
What I meant to write about our neighborhood is that I've never really met such friendly people who want to give you something every time they see you. And half the time we wonder what the heck we're doing living in a place like this, and half the time I think this is exactly where we're supposed to live, and what having neighbors is about.