Friday, July 1, 2011

The Return of Neighborhood Recess (Babble)

Last summer some socially adept neighbors invited us to join their Neighborhood Recess gathering in the field behind our house.  It was a wonderful idea, and Aden enjoyed it a great deal, but I usually had to stay behind with Quinn who found it intimidating, and sometimes Mona if she wasn’t feeling up to it.  When Ian returned from Iraq he was able to enjoy a few rounds of Neighborhood Recess before it ended in the fall.

About a week ago Aden and I were talking about it, and wondering if we should take up the initiative ourselves this year to get Neighborhood Recess going again because we missed it.  But as it happens, the neighbors who put it together before emailed me the next day saying they were ready to do it again, and did we want to join them?  Of course we did!

Neighborhood Recess is a gathering of kids and their parents to play games in the field behind our house for an hour in the evening once a week.  Anyone can join, even kids who happen to be wandering by and just think it looks fun.  It’s informal and silly and a nice way to get to know other families in the neighborhood.

The field isn’t directly behind our house, it just seems that way.  There is a parking lot between us and the field, but since nothing obstructs our view it feels like it’s right outside the back gate.  Here’s the view from the terrace outside my girls’ room.
That’s our garage with our ‘Welcome Home’ mural (for when Ian came back from the second deployment), and beyond that is the field.
And here’s a (not great) zoom in on the crazy game of “Bear, Salmon, Mosquito” going on.  I love games that don’t take any equipment or props, but simply people willing to move.  One of my favorites (and a good way to wear kids out before bedtime) is called “Everybody’s It.”  Just like it sounds, everybody is it.  When the game starts you try to tag as many people as you can.  If you get tagged you sit down, but anyone else who feels like it can tag you again and get you back up.  The game continues until either there is one person left standing or everyone gets too tired to play anymore (which is usually what happens).

We also played a name game, animal races, and poison dart frog.  That one was new to me, and it’s kind of like ‘Murder!’ for the kid crowd.  A detective stands in the middle of the circle of players and tries to figure out the identity of the poison dart frog.  The poison dart frog is a person who sticks his or her tongue out at other people in the circle causing them to fall over dead.  (The best moment was when the little boy chosen to be the frog announced loudly to a kid across the circle, “I killed you!” which made the detective’s job that round rather easy.)

Last year Neighborhood Recess was primarily Aden’s thing.  Mona was nervous about it and just skirted the edges of the activity, and Quinn wanted nothing to do with it.  This year at the first gathering Mona was all over everything right along with her sister, and Quinn, after initially staying glued to one of my legs, eventually warmed up and let go of me long enough to do the animal races.  He was always the last one to get across the field moving like a frog or a kangaroo or a salamander, but he was happy.  Quinn’s a shy little fellow, so I was glad to see him throwing himself into the crowd for a change, even if that crowd was pretending to be monkeys.

I admire people who are able to organize successful events.  We get so wrapped up in all of the activities in our own house we have trouble remembering to look up and invite others in as often as we should.  Things like Neighborhood Recess make me glad I live where I do, and that we were able to move into a larger house without changing who our neighbors are, because we are surrounded by awfully nice people.  I’m glad Neighborhood Recess is back.

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