Learning to deal with the new neighbor
The initial scouting report was not promising.
"I just see some teen-agers with a baby. And their mom," he said, leaving his post at the back-yard fence in disgust.
Turns out the "teens" are in their early 30s and "mom" was a grandparent - your perspective on age is skewed when your parents are 10 years older than dirt.
And it also turns out that the "teens" have a kindergartener and a 3-year-old in addition to the baby. Looks like they're made to order for the guys.
The only hitch, though, is that Big Guy likes to order people around. That doesn't fly with the kindergartener, who's also accustomed to all the rights and privileges that come with being the first born.
"I'll give you a dollar if you let me play with your cell phone," Big Guy offered.
"Nah. I want stickers, too," she said.
Big Guy trudged into the house, where I made him hunt out his own Batman stickers instead of raiding Boots' Thomas collection. He chafed a bit, because it was a new experience for him. The old neighbors, both older kids, happily dispensed stickers, candy and balloons without asking anything in return.
It's an experience Big Guy's eager to repeat, though.
The next day, Big Guy learned about the high cost of renting over ownership when he wanted to play with her Nintendo DS.
"I want 10 stickers for that," she responded.
And so it goes every day after school, the budding business tycoons cutting deals through a crack in the fence.
Or playing their own version of volleyball, which involves launching a pink ball up over the privacy fence and hoping it doesn't get stuck in the grapevines that are the only things holding up part of the fence.
Or figuring out ways to take advantage of their siblings. I notice that Boots' and little neighbor brother's toys always are the first to slide through the fence, though Boots didn't get any Nintendo time out of it.
I don't step in, figuring it's best to let them find their own way. Eventually, the party who's getting cheated will realize it, just as a friend's long-ago playmates eventually figured out they were being scammed out of costume jewelry when the necklace tree my friend promised she'd plant never sprouted.
And eventually, the "teens" will come knocking on the door when they realize their 3-year-old's entire toy box has migrated through the fence and to our yard.
Little neighbor boy's toys are kept in a separate bag so we can trade them back for Boots' playthings when that day inevitably comes.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.