My wife and I take walks around our neighborhood. Once a week or so. We tend to walk around sidewalks and paths that are well worn. We can meander over the routes our son took to elementary and then middle school. We know these streets like we know our front yard. Somewhere along the way last week, she wondered aloud if we had made a difference.
I am pretty sure she meant to our neighborhood.
What have we done to make a difference to our neighborhood?
We have connected with the kids who lived across the street. They have since moved on. A couple of them moved a little further down the street. We still see them from time to time. They are where they are and who they are, in part, because of the interactions they had with that family across the street: us.
They came and played in our front yard. They pushed our son in the tire swing that still hangs from a limb of the plum tree. They played in our back yard. They scooped sand in our sandbox and built castles and roadways with our son and all those Tonka trucks. They came inside and held our son up as he waddled through his first attempts at walking on his own.
It was those early steps that turned into the ongoing capacity to perambulate up across the street and up the hill, into the halls of elementary school and middle school. He walked through his neighborhood, holding his mom and dad's hands when we came to the corner and stepped off the curb.
Like the curb that we stood on that warm August night as we scooped ice cream for the kids across the street. And everyone else who came out to share in our good fortune. We had been a warded a neighborhood ice cream party because my wife entered a contest, thinking what a great thing it would be to share with the families that lived up and down our lane. Every August after that, we block off the street and spend an evening sharing casseroles and flipping burgers, connecting with those of us who are still here. And with the ones who have moved in since. Since the kids across the street grew up and out. And down the street.
We have made a difference.