Crushed

Due to our break-neck summer schedule so far, we haven’t taken many neighborhood strolls this year. Tuesday night finally found us in the thick of the neighborhood kids for the first time.

My neighborhood is pretty kid-friendly. The street below ours in a dead-end, so traffic is light, and certainly doesn’t travel very fast. Plus the sight line are really good. Kids ride their bikes or play kickball in the street with no worries.

There are about eight children (not counting Bun & Monkey) in the ‘hood, ranging in age from 3 to 12–14. Including Bun and Monkey, there are six girls and four boys. One of the boys was the love of Monkey’s life last summer, although her enthusiasm for his attention has waned somewhat.

Maybe.

Last night, after wrangling Bun out of someone’s yard (I really have to teach my kids about property lines), I wandered back to the group of kids. I am the only mom around, unless the 3-year-old ventures out (he has two older sisters, too; the mom is sweet, but holy cats she talks alotandveryfast); my kids are too young still to go around the neighborhood by themselves. I heard one of the boys say, “Monkey likes Chris*” in that sing-songy way that means someone is being teased. She broke away and walked toward me. Nothing else was said.

But there’s are some interesting dynamics in the group. And before I list this out, let me disclaim: none of this is sexual in nature at all.

Monkey has a crush on Chris (which does seems to have faded — she hasn’t mentioned his name once today), but Jimmy seems to be crushing on her (Monkey). Stevie has a crush on Malory, although Madison thinks he has a crush on her. Teresa loves making Bun laugh and playing with her (there’s a 3-year age difference). Malory is blithely her own person — and besides, she’s much more mature than any of the boys in question. Ashlyn is the oldest girl in the group, and you can see how she feels self conscious about hanging out with the “kids”, but has no one her own age around. She and Madison chat a lot, and Malory sometimes joins their group, and sometimes plays with the kids (Malory is 9, I think).

Also, although I feel awful saying this: I don’t like all these kids. Or, I like them all, but sometimes I think a couple of them act like real a-holes. Chris and Madison, who are brother and sister, can be real jerks, and not just toward each other. Chris rides his bike WAY too fast without regard for where the other kids are. When he gets yelled at (for example, by Ashlyn), he whines, “I said I’m sorry.” And Madison treats everyone kind of shabbily. It leads me to wonder what it’s like at home for them.

In general, though, it’s a good group. Last night, they all played together in Malory and Teresa’s backyard (they have a swing set, slide & sandbox), and it was nice to watch.

I’d like to get my hands on a backyard playset, come to that. I wouldn’t mind them all coming up to our yard. If anyone knows of one going second hand, let me know. Time to get on Craigslist!

*Formerly 7. Names have been changed because they are all very innocent.

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