I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while. Then the last few weeks has seen some horrid and upsetting news. The political climate is one that has many (myself included) feeling angry and disoriented. And so I thought I would focus on sharing something positive and representative of the world I want for my children.
So it’s the weekend. We have the usual parental battle to stay asleep (by this I mean lie still with eyes shut when kids come in the bedroom any time from 6am to say “I’m up! I’m gonna go watch some telly” or “hey take my nappy off and get me food” or “what are we doing today?”). The kids will watch telly and eat toast in the front room because that allows us some semblance of relaxation. We may have battles between siblings as they are left to their own devices and so have way more time on their hands to annoy one another.
BUT! all of this will inevitably lead to the same routine : opening my front door getting out into our street for play, with the neighbours. Yes,
We live on the best road in the world.
We live on a road where we have collected a group of families with many children ( I’ve just counted and there’s over 15!) between us who live and play together. Our kids play outdoors with their friends. Us adults take it in turns to supervise or we also ‘play out’ with the aid of tea and cake or g and t’s. The street becomes an added room to all our houses where the kids can chalk to their hearts content, scooter away, have Star Wars battles and play ball.
This community extends all week. Coming home from school and work we can congregate outside for a little while: jointly bridging the day to evening transition. That hellish part of the day when kids are tired and you have to cook tea is made easier by them being able to play and be distracted with another adult looking out for them and tea can be cooked without whining voices and clingy hands.
This way of life is ingrained now. Our kids, who range from newborns to 10 year olds, who include children here all year round and children here every other weekend, have created friendships that don’t recognise age or school years. At birthdays our kids will talk about having a celebration with their ‘street friends’ as well as school mates.
We’ve grown more ambitious with our street life. All of us being parents who need and love being able to be adults; being out with mates and enjoying a drink. We have turned the street into our local. We provide ourselves with an easy social life where babysitters are not needed and the stress of leaving the house isn’t faced. We have evening street gatherings with bbq and drinks, music out the windows, a fire pit, even. The kids run riot into the evening and gradually we haul them into their beds exhausted and grubby knowing that if we wish we can head back outside our doors for more adult time, a nightcap or 3.
In a day and age where fear is often the driving factor when talking about play for our children or living in the inner city, I am so very thankful for a lifestyle that sticks two fingers up at this. I know my kids are playing and playing outside, way more than they would without this street community. As adults we can seek support from more than just our partners or families. We’ve seen different life events between us, good and bad, and our street community remains, providing some thing we can rely on.
On the days of not enjoying being a parent or an adult (or simply the days of having a hangover with kids), sitting on my wall with another adult who gets this, whilst our kids run around us having fun, this is the best Medicine.Facing an uncertain future politically I feel at least that my children are growing up to know community, to know free play, to know differences and acceptance.