Our Happy Place
As I’m sitting here on our bed I’m listening to our kids play down in the yard with the neighbour kids. It’s a new sound for our family. At our old place the kids had to stay inside the fenced yard, and because of security issues that were rooted with our immediate area, they weren’t allowed to play outside the fence. They talked with kids through the gate and fence, but their social network was based out of school, not home.
In the past two weeks since we moved in here our kids have had more adventures than they have in the past 5 years. Every day they’ve woken up early, and typically by just after 7 am they’re begging to go off and play with their friends. It still seems ridiculously early to me, but everyone here is up with the sun, so their friends are ready to go too. And off they run. They come back home through the day, trailing their friends behind them. They’ll spend time playing in our yard, then off they run again to have their adventures. Each night they come home, telling us about the mountains they’ve climbed and the things they’ve been doing. Alex has been learning to use a sling shot, and Olivia’s friends have been trying to teach her how to cook Haitian food. This is of course after they’ve spent a couple of hours visiting all the nearby fields and neighbours looking for things like okra to cook with.
This feeling of being completely comfortable with their running off for hours, is somewhat strange, but good. It takes me back to my own childhood where the neighbours were all friends of our family and watched out for us kids. We knew everyone on our street, and around the corners. The neighbourhood was our playground. We rode our bikes all over the street, and the cars would slow for us. We had paths beaten through the lawn going next door to our friends house. In the winter we slid down the hill in front of our house, across the street, and down the neighbours hill too, if we’d gotten enough momentum. In the summers, after it was dark, our parents would let us stay out and play kick the can with all our neighbourhood friends.
For Chris and I, being able to give our kids the same freedom with this move, has made life more complete. We’ve been here for two weeks, and they’re so much happier. They come home exhausted, dirty and hungry, but filled up with stories to tell. I hear them down in the yard yabbering away in Creole with the other kids and my heart swells. Alex hates wearing shoes, but he’s decided that shoes are better for climbing mountains, so he’s put on his flip flops every morning. Some of his new friends have been teaching him how to use a sling shot. The other day he was complaining that his leg hurt, and then Olivia said, “It’s because you got kicked by a donkey!” and we heard about how he learned that walking behind a donkey and touching it’s butt is not something that donkeys like. Life lessons, right? They then told us about their friends riding the same donkey and falling off, and that they were laughing but also thankful that they had decided to keep their little feet firmly on the ground – this time.
I feel like our family has been given a huge gift. Our kids are so much happier, and the relationships they’re building will be life giving. I wondered what it would be like for them here, and how long it would take for them to settle in, and honestly, it’s happened much faster than I expected. We love that this place is safe and has a priority of looking out for each other.
This morning after the kids left, Chris and I decided to go for a walk to visit the neighbours before we got busy doing other things. We’d been saying we would do it all break, and just kept putting it off. We wandered over to chat, and visited then walked up to the road and visited with people along the way. It felt good to go out on foot where we had the time to stop and chat with people, rather than always driving and being on the way to some place. I got to find out where people make food to sell, where the bread that we see made in a big clay oven gets sold, and where to find other things in the area. We stopped and chatted with the dad of one of our construction workers, and I now know where Akins gets his smile and his sweet personality from.
While we were out we met a guy that harvests honey from bees, and later this morning he came by with fresh, raw honey to sell. Some friends of ours recently had a hive that they needed to get rid of, and got about a gallon of honey from it and shared a bit with us. Raw honey is so different from the commercial honey you buy, and it’s so delish. We were later talking about how we want to build up relationships with the local farmers and let them know that if they have produce they can come by the gate to sell to us. We already have a milk man, so we’re well on our way!
We love our new community so far, and I’m looking forward to sharing more adventures and stories as time goes by.