Monday, July 20, 2009

Captive

There are days, many days, this summer that I feel like I am a captive in my own house. Like I am stuck, against my will, indoors. That my children are in essence prevented from playing in the front yard. And I don't like it.

It's not illness or weather or bugs or heat keeping us inside. It's kids. Other kids. Most neighborhoods have them, I'm sure. The kids who are perpetually roaming the streets, looking for someone to play with. Someone to entertain them. It's not terribly unlike the way most kids were when I was younger. Children were given longer leashes back then. Parents were less restrictive. The difference is that they are the only ones in the area like this, and it's obvious.

They are a bit older, and their parents clearly a bit more tired and less interesting in amusing them. Or so it seems, anyway. We have seen them only rarely and spoken with them never. Even when I was a kid, back in the days when kids were universally given more freedoms, my parents would have shuddered at the thought of me going over to someone else's house, hanging out with other adults that they didn't know.

They seem to think that by giving their kids a cell phone, they have done enough. They can, to some degree, keep electronic tabs on them. Good enough, right? Not in my mind. Especially since I am one of the weary parents tired of always having a few extra kids around.

The kids show up at the door many times a day. If we are out front, they will be there within minutes. My kids simply cannot play out front without them showing up. If they hear us in the backyard, they invite themselves in. If we tell them "not today", they stand at the fence and try to prod the kids into talking us into letting them out front. Even on holidays, they are there. Bugging. Constantly. Don't they have anything better to do? And shouldn't they be with their family instead of pestering mine?

The constant need for playmates is one thing, but the chattiness and questioning is another. My patience wears thin for parenting advice coming from a child not much older than Aidan. No, we haven't eaten dinner yet, and yes, that is fine. Yes, the baby can eat this. No, you cannot hold him. This is replayed daily, hourly sometimes.

I am not the only mom in the area, tired of the relentlessness of it all. The only time all summer that we have had a break was when they were on vacation. It was nice to be able to go for a bike ride without tag-a-longs. To let my girls play without interference from other kids with their own toys, the ones that can only be played with out front.

It's not that they are bad kids. They are well behaved. They are kind to my children. But they are not my children, and I've had enough.

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