Last Saturday was the Playborhood Party (If you don’t know what a Playborhood Party is, check out Part 1 first.)
The front yard was filled with nearly every little-kid toy I could find — sandbox; mini basketball hoop; sidewalk chalk and hopscotch board; cars and trucks out the wazoo (I have two boys); a blanket on the grass with a tea set and play food; bubbles; ride-on toys; and hula hoops. In the field across the street were the toys for slightly older kids — we had a badminton/volleyball net with all the accessories; water balloons and water squirters; frisbees and Nerf footballs; and a parachute with pit balls (who remembers playing that game in elementary school gym class?? It was my favorite!). There were snacks and cold drinks. We had lawn chairs and tables strategically placed near the road so that in theory, the adults could sit there and stop the kids from dashing into the road. I also used the chalk to write, “SLOW” on the actual road, but this seemed to have no effect on the cars that went by. (Several cars DID slow down when passing the house, but that’s just because they thought it was a really freakin’ awesome tag sale! Once they realized our toys were not for sale, they zoomed away in a huff.)
Drumroll please . . . ratatatatatatatatatatatatatat . . . Three families attended. Four adults, five kids, nine people total. I was already good friends with one of the mamas and her two kids, so really, we met three new adults and three new kids from a neighborhood of 123 houses. Of course I was bummed that we didn’t have a higher turnout, but do not despair, kind readers. If you read Part 1, you may have noticed that Mike Lanza himself commented to warn me that cultural change is really hard and requires a lot of pushing. I’m nothing if not a pusher, ha ha. Ask my mister, he’ll attest that I don’t give up on things I really care about. EVER.
So there’s an upside. The one couple that we met? Their kids are almost the exact same age as mine and they were super excited about the Playborhood concept. In fact, once they got here, the husband actually texted their closest neighbors, ones who also have small children, to get their butts to my house pronto! The other families couldn’t make it, but just knowing that one family is on board is exciting to me. At ages nearly 4 and 2, our kids are too little to go exploring on their own, so we talked about the need to hold organized, scheduled activities like this at first. Our new friends offered to host the next Playborhood Party and ensure that those other nearby families attended. I consider that a success, don’t you? Plus the husband loves Halloween and that’s my favorite holiday, too, so I foresee some kind of spooky craziness around here come October 31st. Win win!
I’m going to keep at it. Based on the comments to my Part 1 post, I think our readers are interested, too. As Lanza beseeches in the Epilogue to Playborhood:
” . . . I want you to make your own neighborhood vibrant and nurturing. I want you to build a neighborhood hangout in your own front yard, play out there with your kids every evening, and then give them the tools they need to be independent of you. I want you to encourage your neighbors to join you.
In short, I want you to join the movement, or start your own movement, with the goal of promoting play and enhancing the quality of children’s lives today. With enough voices, at a high enough volume, we can transform our culture’s conception of what a ‘normal childhood’ looks like.”
Who’s with me?!