My husband and I walk nearly every day. Weather permitting, we walk outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air. It’s our time alone together, and we get a bit of exercise in the process. But one thing is noticeably lacking on our walks – people. We see beautiful homes but few, if anyone, are outside. Where are all our neighbors, we wonder?

When my children were young they played outdoors every possible moment. They rode bikes, played tagged, shot hoops, sold lemonade, and put on little puppet and dance shows. The street was noisy with children’s voices, balls bouncing, swings swinging, and the wheels of bicycles spinning. If I walked out with a box of popsicles, children swarmed to me like bees to a hive.

There were stay-at-home moms out with the kids too. We watched and played with our children. We pushed them in strollers and pulled them in wagons. It’s how we met our neighbors. The children played together while the moms shared dreams, troubles, and joys. We formed bonds and memories that continue to this day.

My guess is that today in our neighborhood children are booked solid with structured activities. They are competing in organized sports, attending dance classes, or practicing their music lessons. Parents are working extra hours or on the tread mill at the health club. Neither child nor parent has free time to just be.

©Mary K. Doyle

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