Remember that old saying, "It Takes a village to raise a child"? I've been thinking about it quite a lot lately. I remember when I was a child, I was surrounded by a vast number of adults who were not my parents, whom I highly respected and would listen and obey when they told me to do or not do any particular task. I have a few of these adult models that to this very day I still call "mom (insert last name)" and "Dad (insert last name here)" because of the unique bond we formed while I was growing up and they put forth the effort to love and help watch out for me! Quite often these adult role models were the parents of my best friends.
Shortly after I started having children of my own, I realized that this sort of "village" environment is no longer the "norm". I was rather SHOCKED when I found that a neighbor could just as soon ignore and walk away from my child if they were in danger, or would rather call the cops instead of simply saying, "hey, stop it!" When did neighbors turn into "pests" instead of dear close friends who looked out for each other?
We had one duty station in Kansas, while the husband was still in the army, where I got some semblance of that "village" back into my life. I can't tell you what that meant to me! I had 3 neighbors out of an entire block that I knew my kids would be safe with! And I hope they knew their kids could be safe at my home too! It was such a relief to know that if I got held up in traffic on my way home from a Dr appointment or a fast trip to the store, and the bus happened to deliver my boys before I got home, that they could go to these neighbor's homes and be safe until I could get home.
Upon moving back to Idaho, I'm glad to say, that we are building a village in our neighborhood where I know my children are safe, where they respect the adults in those homes and they have an environment of adult role models to follow and learn from!
The biggest surprise to myself is that I'm developing my own feelings of pride and love for these children. It began when my children become friends with the neighborhood children. Then I began to develop a relationship with the parents. Then we became friends. As I get to know these parents more, I trust them more. I get the opportunity to spend time with their children, as they often play with my sons. I see what great kids they are!
What really brought this to life, is last night, the 8 year old had a school program. As we were watching the program I found myself holding my breath, and hanging on every word of the other children from our neighborhood that I've developed this relationship with! When did it happen that I feel almost as much pride and protective nature for these other children as I do for my very own? I can tell you I was beaming with pride at the end of the performance last night as I saw and cheered on not only my own son, but 4 other very special children from our neighborhood!
I often find myself keeping an eye out for them when they are outside playing, to help keep them safe. I am filled with pride when I see them succeed! And my heart leaps for joy, when I notice these amazing children show signs that they feel safe in our home, and they trust me enough to ask for my help or advice! They are my little adopted children!
I never overstep my bounds, thinking I know more than their own parents, because obviously I don't! But I do feel a sense of responsibility to help the parent when they are in need, or help the child when they are in need and the parent can't fulfill the role.
And at the same time, I've been so grateful as these other parents have stepped up to the role of doing the very same for me with my children! Just the other week, the 6 year old was walking home from school, tripped and fell. He hurt his knee and started crying. I was still 2 houses down and didn't even know this had happened! But one of these amazing parents heard him crying, rushed out and picked him up. Made sure he was ok. And then she brought him home to me! We've lived in so many places where something simple as this would have been ignored. Yet in our little "village" that mother took the time to care for my son when I couldn't! And I am forever grateful!
For me, I think if more people would be as my dear neighbors, who have helped me build our own small village; if more people cared about what the children in their neighborhood were up to, maybe our neighborhoods wouldn't be as scary. Often I find myself agreeing, that it truly does take a village to raise a child! I won't always be around when things happen, or my children need to make a critical decision. They need the reassurance that our home is not the ONLY home where they can feel safe.
As I was feeling so proud of my "children" last night, I wondered…
Is this what my adoptive parents felt when I succeeded?
Did they feel the same love, concern, and need to protect as I feel?
Is this what it truly means to have a village help raise your child?
Do you have a village to raise your children?
What do you Think? Do you need a village?
Or does it not make a difference and you can do it all on your own?
I want to hear your thoughts.