Friday, March 09, 2007

My Neighborhood

Currently I'm living in the middle of a town in New Jersey. The Warlock commutes into the city every day to work to earn the big bucks. In our apartment complex, Pippi has plenty of friends to play with, and it seems to be one of the few places in New Jersey where the neighborhood kids play after school with parents supervising from the windows.

I live in the apartment closest to the playground, so when the weather is suitable for outdoor play, the neighborhood children knock at our door. My name is "Pippi's Mom." I'm surprisingly unoffended by this. I guess because I feel SO honored to be Pippi's mom. I get invited to their school activities (the science fair is in a week), and I am the playground mediator.

Today when we drove up, the kids were out playing, and there was some drama outside. "Pippi's mom, those boys were being mean. Don't let Pippi play with them. They were pretending to shoot guns. They are playing in the mud. And they found some chocolate milk and they drank it all up." Now what am I going to say to that? Pippi's already running towards them so she can show off her new doll that can convert from a mermaid into a fairy. Visions of the stories from the Obnoxious Warlock's childhood Barbie prison camps (including torture and execution) caused me to feel a pang panic. Pippi would be crushed if they took her doll or made fun of it or broke it. But I looked on and I almost laughed out loud at my panic when I saw our neighborhood boys caress the wings of the fairy and then gently close the wings to click on the mermaid fin. "Oh, that's cool. I saw this on TV." Yeah those mean mean boys, drinkin' up the chocolate milk, stirring the mud puddle, and admiring the dolls.

But there are adults that live here, too. My Italian-American friend down the street with 3 nice boys helps me keep track of Pippi when she's out of my line of sight. My next door neighbor is from India. Sometimes she'll hold Bardo for me while I haul in my groceries. There's my friend Dod, who's from Lebanon. She knows the meaning of hospitality. Whenever I go to retrieve Pippi from her house she tries to feed me. Then across the way, there's a couple from Pakistan, who told me the story of their arranged marriage. In this little apartment complex, in this little town, are people of ALL sorts. But they are like me, too. We all love our kids, we all love God (though we all worship differently), and we all want to help each other.


Prairie Smoke said...

I love reading about you neighbors. In the midst of the terrorism and fighting in Iraq, it is important to remember that most people just want the same things we want: peace, safety, and freedom to raise our children how we please. MOST people are good. It is easy to forget that.

tenacious d said...

A big hi to you, Maren, from Diane Formerly-Known-As-Johnson! Amberly's blog led me to yours. Your posts are great--sounds like you all are doing well (even though you live in New Jersey!)

Amberly said...

That was a super peek into your life and I think it sounds charming- you do make the perfect playground monitor! you're always a reminder to me to slow down and look around me. thanks.

Lisa said...

How awesome! Leave it to Pippi to give those boys a chance to appreciate a great toy! I want to be the kind of neighbor you talk about!
love ya!