Do you remember when, as children, we spend the whole day or an afternoon with the neighbours’ kids in their house: playing, eating, and doing whatever else children do? Nobody had to plan that spontaneous visit weeks in advance. You just turned up at the front door, and if your friend/s could come out and play or invite you in for tea, you were all in. As children, we should be playing as much as possible and having someone else to play with us was a mandatory requirement of any happy childhood.
Back in my childhood, the whole society relied on spontaneous acts of kindness; it was nothing out of the ordinary. Relying on your neighbours, especially when the kids were concerned, was not a sign of weakness. We were all part of the same community, and as part of it, the neighbourly help was very much a common practice.
Fast forward to 2018, and it seems to me that the innocence of those years is completely gone and people hardly ever get together to create supportive communities that one could rely on. Especially communities that can actively help with children. We all know it takes a village to raise a child, but we don’t act this way anymore.
For nearly five years Mikolay went to a Steiner school. If you don’t know much about Steiner education one of the biggest things is for parents to create the support around the school community. When you are part of that community, you do what communities do best, support one another. Needing help and asking for it, or having gazillions of playdates is nothing unusual and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
Since leaving the Steiner environment (Little M. has profound dyslexia and his school was not willing and capable of accommodating him) we tried to organise playdates with the neighbours’ children or Little M’s football mates but all in vain. As if people didn’t believe that someone was willing to look after their kids for no other reason than allowing them to play together and get to know each other better.
I’m a strong believer in community spirit. Call me naive but helping one another and being kind to one another is what makes life fuller in my personal opinion. However, like everything in life it must be a give-take situation; you can’t be only a giver or a taker because it’s not how a community works.
We are social species and without other humans, we cannot last very long. I feel that one of the greatest gifts we can offer/give to our children is to show them how communities work, especially in our modern times. I think that communities can provide us with the social and moral support we need.