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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

In Praise of Helpful Neighbors (part rant, part thanksgiving)

Because we live directly across the street from the "backyard" of LG's school, and because we are "walkers" to school, from time to time the parents of other children will ask if they can drop their kids here in the early morning, just for a short time, so they can walk to school with us. This comes up if a parent has an early meeting, or must catch an early plane or train for work, that sort of thing. LG's school day begins at 8:45, which is relatively late as compared to parents' work schedules. No matter how ill I might be, we get LG to school. Usually I walk her there, a 10-minute hike from our front door to the school's back door. Sometimes, if I'm really not doing well, Jif stays home a little late and walks her. But ALWAYS, when someone has asked me if they can drop their kid at our house, my response is the same, some variation of: We're going to school anyway, so what's one (or two or three) more? And it's true. It might be an hour, during which they hang out and play games or watch TV. Or it might just be 10 minutes, during which they play with Biscuit, but the fact remains, at the appointed time, we're going to school, extra kids or no extra kids, so I cannot begin to imagine saying no to a neighbor who makes such a request.

Sometimes, not often, but sometimes, I need this same kind of help. It used to be a few times a year when I'd have a continuing education event that started early. Now it's more likely to be an early morning doctor's appointment to which Jif is accompanying me. A few weeks back, as we walked to school, we encountered one of LG's very closest friends, Terror*, walking to school with her mom. I thought I might raise the subject with the mom, since we were all walking to school, rather than waiting until I actually had need of such a favor. After small talk, I said to her, "You know, Spacey**, sometimes I have to get out of the house a little earlier, like maybe 8 o'clock. I was wondering, would it be OK, maybe a couple of times a year, if we drop LG at your house for a few minutes before you all leave, and then she walks to school with you?"

I fully expected to hear some version of my standard answer to this question, "Sure, we're going to school anyway . . . "

But you would have thought I'd asked to borrow her Lexus. She looked very anxious and said, "Weeeelllll..." That right there was enough for me to know that I would not leave LG there, even if she did get around to saying it would be OK, but she went on, "it might not be convenient. It's a little hectic at our house sometimes. Gaylord (husband) is so forgetful . . . I just don't know . . . "

So I said, "Oh. OK, then, no big deal . . . " But I thought, "WTF? It's hectic at everybody's house in the morning . . . what does Gaylord forget? That he has kids? Where the school is?"
And that was that.

Today I learned that I can get in to see a doc I need to see, tomorrow morning, but we have to leave by 8 a.m. Our closest friends in the area, and most of LG's closest friends, other than Terror, ride the bus. There are rules against "walkers" being "bussers." In order for her to be dropped at one of those friends' houses, it would mean that those parents would have to drive LG and their own bussers to school. I know some of them would do it, in a minute, but it seems like an imposition, not at all like someone asking me if their kids can tag along when we're walking anyway.

So I called the mom across the street and two doors down, Miss Jen. Her kids are younger than LG, but every time we see them as we walk to and from school, she's very friendly and talkative (but not excessively so), and her kids, red-headed twin girls and a blond baby sis, seem ridiculously happy and clean and nicely dressed all the time, so I called her and left a message. I was relieved I got to leave a message, so I didn't put her on the spot for an answer.

Later on, she left me this message: "I am SO glad you thought of us! The girls are thrilled that LG will be coming over! And we'll be having breakfast about 8, so just let her eat with us, we'll be having cereal and fruit and juice, then we'll walk right out the back gate and we'll make sure she gets there on time . . . this is terrific, no problem at all!" And again, "We'd be HAPPY to have her, I'm glad you called."

I was so excited to tell Jif! "Guess what Jen said! Like a normal person would!"

And he, who pays so very little attention to such things, said, "Not at all like Spacey . . . "

Little things mean so much. Especially with WTF.

*It's really Tara, but if you heard her screeching, you'd call her Terror, too
**It's really Tracy, but . . .

file under: &I'm Just Sayin' . . . . &Family &WTF Disease

25 heads are better than one . . .

Anonymous sheryl said...

I wish I lived close enough to walk LG to school! I know, kinda weird since I don't have kids.

Ok, I could have my nieces over the night before, and we'd have a morning dance party!

Blogger Girl.A said...

I'd like to ride with you to the doctor. I'd pretend to be your slightly neurotic cousin.

I would make sure the doctor cooperated and paid close attention to you during our visit. I'd get my hair braided in cornrows, and I would wear special pasties on the outside of my parka. And I would bring accupuncture needles to poke in his bum if he did not cooperate to the fullest in healing you.

Blogger Circus Kelli said...

Little things mean everything.

Blogger Susie said...

sheryl, a morning dance party is always a good thing. Tonight I did the "Elaine" dance for LG, much to her horror, although she was laughing while horrified.

girl.a, I am so glad I read your comment tonight. I shall stay up late fashioning homemade pasties for Jif to wear on the outside of his parka tomorrow. THAT will show that doc that we mean BUSINESS! He may be confused as to just what kind of business, but still . . .

ck, ok, I'll make little pasties . . .

Blogger mrtl said...

Gaylord forgets to wear pants.

Anonymous sharkey said...

I like the pasties idea. I'm sure they'd be a big hit with Jif, no?

I'm sure Miss Jen's girls will idolize LG, and it sounds like she'll have fun at their house too.

Good luck with the doc--I'll be thinking of you!

Blogger The other me said...

Is Gaylord really called Gaylord or, because he went and married Spacey, does he just wish he was Gay? Lord!
I love your neighbour who said yes, if you are going to say yes, that is EXACTLY how to say it, fabulous, breakfast too.

Blogger Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Shame on 'em. Saying no to you is saying no to the little one(s).

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Weeeelll..." That says it right there. Perfect.

Also Mrtl's comment cracked me up.

Anonymous Michelle said...

The parents who hedged the questions (said no) are definitely in for some karma of their own. I wish no one ill will but COME ON really. If we can't help one anotehr out - what is community for? I am glad that the mom across the street was so enthusiastic and helpful....

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you posted your daughter's name unless I misread this entry. I know you are careful not to, so thought I'd point out.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your good neighbor...and am disgusted by the bad one! What on earth are neighbors for if not to help one another? We, of course, have neighbors from hell but someone new did just buy the house across the street...perhaps there's hope...I hope your doctor's appt is successful this morning.

Blogger Susie said...

mrtl, heehee. Thank you for that. Perfect :)

shawkey, the pasties worked wonders. Well, or at least they made people wonder. But I like them, so I'll be making them for all Jif's outfits.

t.o.m., you made me CACKLE. Yes, it's what you said. heeee

mrB, is that a crack about the size of my breasts?

anon, right on all counts.

michelle, I know; it's not a big thing, not like they're not going to school anyway . . . whatever. I guess she had her reasons.

anon, thank you. I don't usually post it, although I have a time or two. But I didn't intend to here, so I went back and changed it, for consistency. Thanks again :)

traci, I hope your new neighbors are good ones. The doc's appt. was not much new, but one new blood test, and he wasn't dismissive this time. I feel hopeful.

Anonymous Elizabeth said...

May I come out of lurkiness and say..nice how "Ms. Weeell" shifted the reason for her response onto Gaylord. Trust...she just told you who she really is in one interjection. Selfish is the first of a string of words I'd use to describe. When people tell us who they are we are supposed to believe them. I'd be willing to bet her family gets even less from her than a neighbor that asks for 30 mins of her time.

Anonymous LadyBug said...

I'm so glad Miss Jen was helpful. It sounds like maybe she's been looking for some way to help you out, but didn't know quite what to do. (I only say that, because I've been in that position myself, and would have been THRILLED if the person-in-need had just called me and said, "Could you please help me with X?")

Love, hugs, and many, many prayers to you, my friend.

Anonymous OddMix said...

Happy New Year! I am back from vacation and working my way around saying, "Hi!"

Blogger Squirl said...

I can't understand why Tracy was so reticent to have LG over for less than one hour, maybe twice within a year. It doesn't make any sense.

So, the opposite reaction from Jen was refreshing and renews my faith in humanity. She went above and beyond and sounded so happy to do it. Ladybug's probably right. She'd wanted to do something to help and this was her chance.

Waiting now to hear if there's any new news on WTF.

Blogger Susie said...

elizabeth, welcome, thanks for visiting. You remind me of a favorite quote of mine, from Oprah (who may have gotten it from Maya Angelou, not sure): "When someone shows you who they are, believe them."

ladybug, you may be right. I hadn't thought of that. I have not talked to Jen about my situation, but of course, neighbors do talk, and some know, so . . . yea, I'll bet you're right.

All the same back to you, always.

oddmix, well, welcome back, and happy New Year to you and your crew, as well :)

squirl, I don't get it. Trying to give her a break, I have imagined . . . are there marital problems, is Gaylord ill (I see him around all the time, he appears fine), but even so, a call later to say "Sorry, we have some things going on right now, I'm just not comfortable having children over . . . " any sort of explanation at all . . . she's just an odd duck. Not to be confused with an odd mix ;)

On WTF. Well, I don't have anything new. Except a shift in perspective, which I am still trying to sort out and will probably try to write about soon. One new blood test, and some new info, but the same possibilities are still on the table, and I have to decide how I want to proceed from here.

Blogger Dawn said...

grrrrr, that really bugs me when people are like that, but, it's so great everything worked out in the end.

some people are just so amazing when it comes down to it and others, well, you already know-such as in this situation.

Blogger Bucky Four-Eyes said...

Now all I can think about is you, doing the Elaine dance.

Video? Please?

Blogger Von Krankipantzen said...

The first thing I thought of was that sometimes it takes a negative situation (the WTF) to find out who your friends really are. I know I have learned a lot over the last couple years and some people who I would have considered good friends no longer have that title. While that does suck I am glad I know the truth.

Miss Jen sounds lovely.

Anonymous Karen said...

Hi Susie, Happy New Year! Sorry I haven't commented in a while, but I had to step in with my contrarian views again.

It might not be about you. It might truly BE about the father and what he's like. What if she's too embarrassed to have anyone over in the morning? (Our family was like that. No way my mother would be having anyone in our house either.)

Blogger Susie said...

dawn, yep, takes all kinds.

bucky, I just SENT you video of me doing a dance! You can't get enough, can you? Maybe for your birfday. If you're good.

kranki, perhaps like you, I have learned that some "friends" just don't "do" illness, and they disappear. (Spacey is not in that category; our kids are friends, but I would say we are acquaintances, just don't know her well, beyond verifying that they appear "safe" for LG to visit there, and her child comes to our house.)

karen, happy New Year to you, too. Sometimes, I am the first to admit, I must be reminded that it's not all about me. I did consider that possibility. See my reply to Squirl. She has children, including LG, over at other times, and Gaylord is there, and they are present at school functions, etc. I hope I would be more sensitive, less critical if it were about something going on with . . . mental illness, marital problems, embarrassment about the house . . . no signs of any of that. And of course, the bottom line is, if the woman doesn't want someone at her house in the morning, that's her right, her business, etc.
You and your views, contrarian or otherwise, are welcome.

Anonymous AprilMommy said...

Hi Susie, I just found you through Karen... Anyway I wanted to say that I enjoyed your post and plan to stop back again soon.

I also agree with Karen that it probably had nothing to do with you. It is always fabulous to know who you can call in a time of need! Keep those people close!

Anonymous Ortizzle said...

Somehow I missed this post. Glad I found it just now. Good story. People like Jen restore one's faith in humanity, especially after an encounter with the fair-weather Spacey types!


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