We live in a very private world.  Although we reside in a neighborhood, we are not overly neighborly.  We rarely see our neighbors outside, and we speak with most of them only on occasion.  I occasionally feel saddened by the thought that my children will not grow up with the joy of knowing their neighbors as I did as a child.  I had friends in the neighborhood, and we played until the street lights came on.  I am even lucky enough to still be very close with one of those neighborhood friends.

Today I had a major revelation.  My children do have these relationships with our neighbors.  The only difference is that our neighbors are not children.  My children keep a keen eye on all of my neighbors.  They are quick to notice if something is not quite right with someone’s house or yard, and they will quickly go to check things out.

Recently, my immediate neighbor fell and had to have surgery.  My children have amazed me with their commitment to her throughout this process.  While she was gone, they watered her flowers, filled her bird feeders, and cared for her yard.  Since her return, they bring in her trash cans, bring her mail over daily, water her flowers and visit with her daily.  Each of them has helped out in some way and without any coercion or inquiry from me.  This morning, my oldest son noticed that a limb (which is putting is nicely-it was more like a medium-sized tree) fell in her backyard.  He called his grandfather and coordinated with him to bring up his chainsaw this afternoon.  He then spoke with all of us to see if we could help out with hauling the limbs.  Again, he did all of this on his own.

Today I realized that my children actually have it better than I did as a child.  I had friends in the neighborhood to play with, but they have neighbors.  They know what it truly means to be neighbors with someone.  They are not worried about how often they see or speak with our neighbors.  They simply respect each of our neighbors for who they are, and they learn from each of them.  Children teach some outstanding lessons, and today I learned an amazing one from mine.

Project-Birthday Lunch!

Do you remember how I stated earlier that NC weather is crazy?  Well, two weeks ago today, it snowed.  The kids had a blast.  I didn’t see them except for short food breaks.  The next day, they were playing outside in the yard without jackets.

Since then, we have had rain and rain with both cold and cool weather.  Over these past two weeks, my kids have been planning for an important day-our next door neighbor’s birthday.  We do not have any attachment to our house, but we do love our backyard and our neighbor (two things, we are not ready to leave yet).  The children visit our neighbor almost daily.  She teaches them songs, reads to them, teaches them games and simply entertains them in a way that no one else does.  My children have grown up with her as an important part of their daily lives.

The meal was not part of their “school,” but it was definitely a project.  First they planned the menu.  They figured out what items they would need to purchase and who could cook what items.  They decorated with paper chains and flowers.  They made cards and planned.  The menu consisted of scrambles eggs with cheese, smashed potatoes, biscuits, and sliced tomatoes,  The desert was their favorite part.  They made ice cream cupcakes in the shape of a nest with robin’s eggs on top.  The meal was 100% theirs with only a little cueing on the timing (when to put everything in the oven or start cooking it).

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I had a terrific time watching as they worked together reading directions and cooking.  Everything was perfect (and absolutely, delicious!).

So for school today, they worked on reading comprehension, fractions, time, chemistry, practical life, art and most importantly compassion.