In case you’re wondering, yes I am the neighborhood mom. Its not a role I stepped into willingly. I’m not sure anyone ever steps into this role willingly. Its similar to the “default parent”. The neighborhood mom is the mom all the kids go to when they are outside playing. And being neighborhood mom doesn’t just mean a physical body. It also means you probably have the house they all want to play at or congregate at. This happens for several reasons and the worst part of it, is you usually don’t see it coming until its too late.
How you become the Neighborhood Mom: this happens for several different reasons, but usually its because you embody all of the reasons.
1. You have good snacks, or any snacks. And since you’ve taught your kid the concept of fairness, if your kid gets a snack, their friends get one too. You have to be careful because this can quickly become expensive and make you feel as though you somehow ended up with more children than you ever wanted.
2. You buy your kid cool toys. This is a double edged sword. You are able to buy your child the coolest things because she’s an only child or you work very hard and then other kids in the neighborhood who may not be so lucky suddenly never want to leave your driveway/living room/backyard.
3. You let your kid watch non-lame cartoons or movies and then they tell their friends they have the latest animated feature or Superhero flick and next thing you know, you’re a far less expensive version of AMC, well far less expensive for them. Coincidentally I am need of juice boxes and Goldfish Crackers. And to add insult to injury, you’ve lost use of your television in the process.
4. You order pizza. Bean has this friend, she’s a very sweet girl. But apparently her family doesn’t order pizza, like ever. She is always asking when the next time we are having pizza for dinner is, and then if she can come over. I order pizza so I don’t have to do my motherly duties, not to increase my motherly duties.
5. You acknowledge injuries. I don’t make a big deal out of injuries. But I acknowledge that Bean is hurt and check it out and make her feel better by showing that as her mother I actually give a shit. 99% of the time she’s fine, so I kiss the knee/elbow/head and send her on her way. I guess other kids want the same thing and figure they can get it from me……I’m not kissing the knees/elbows/heads of anyone I didn’t give birth to.
And the final reason, this one is a heart-breaker because it quickly becomes evident if this is the reason why said child is always at your house……
6. You not only pay attention to your kid, but you regularly interact with them and get down on their level. Right now the butt of my jeans is covered in green chalk because we covered my driveway in chalk drawings and I sat in one. So when you interact with your kid, you end up interacting with all of them. And some are so desperate for even a little conversation or a tiny bit approval that they get used to coming to you for it. I witnessed this firsthand today. A boy in the neighborhood that I had written off as a “bad seed” was hanging around playing with Bean and her friend E. The more time he spent with them, the more I saw that he just wants someone to tell him he’s awesome at BMX or really good at flying a kite. It’s not the kids’ fault. Parents have to make a living. I’m sure that with 3 kids and each parent working full-time, sometimes quality time is what suffers the most.
So I told him he’s really good at BMX. And really good flying a kite. I played tic-tac-toe with him 8 times. Gave him fruit snacks and juice boxes…….And now he’s in my living room watching a movie with Bean and E.
I am NOT ordering pizza for dinner.
Keep your toes in the sand…..and your snacks well hidden.