Our neighborhood is a hodgepodge, demographically. It's safe and clean and near the school and the church and generally, I can't complain. The houses were all built between the late '60s and the mid-'80s and are well maintained and respectable. But - as you might expect from the age of the homes - most of the families are empty-nesters or near empty-nesters; a few have very young kids (infants). I have missed the out-in-the street atmosphere I remember from certain neighborhoods I lived in growing up - kids always out biking, playing ball, arguing, being kids.
But my two big boys bonded with some neighborhood friends over the weekend. There's an 11-year-old who's slightly shorter than my 9-year-old, and a 9-year-old slightly shorter than my 7-year-old. Apparently the size factor trumps the age/maturity factor. Who can pin that down in school-age boys, anyway? One moment they are young men, the next they are whining like 3-year-olds. All four of them got along great. (I don't have any school-age girls right now. Ask me about how that works in a few more years.)
They were back and forth between houses all day Saturday. The new friends have a pool, but amazingly they still hung out at my house some. W and W even helped my boys clean their pigsty of a room so they could play. My heart was won. I fed them popsicles and chatted with them and thanked heaven my kids finally found neighborhood friends.
They gathered up all the spent fireworks that were sitting on the curbs waiting to be swept up. They took them all out on our back patio and dissected them with a couple of pocketknives. Of course I had to keep the baby inside and the boys were filthy with ash. But they had so much fun. This is the kind of activity I remember from my childhood.