During the pandemic, our neighbors became our family
Something happened during the pandemic that I am eternally grateful for. My four and six year old son and daughters have become our neighbors’ best friends. Our 68-year-old neighbors.
It started innocently enough when my kids went outside to play after virtual school. My kids were screaming, “Hello Mrs. Janie! Do you wanna play? ”Across the street for her. They showed off all of their skills including running, jumping and the playdate usually ended with a dance performance.
During the summer of 2020, we were relatively isolated without any plans. It doesn’t bode well for three active little kids. We started to schedule hours to see Ms. Janie and Ms. Jeri each week. Our neighbors loved listening to my children’s stories with their vivid imaginations. We took a walk every morning and my kids enthusiastically remembered each of the animals we saw. My kids zoomed in on their scooters or bikes shouting, “Look at me, Mrs. Jeri! “
Their relationship continued to develop until the fall, when two of my children virtually started kindergarten. While they enjoyed interacting with their peers online, I really saw my kids light up during their special time in person with Ms. Janie and Ms. Jeri. They ran to Ms. Janie’s driveway, asked her to move her bench from her porch to the driveway, and took turns “falling asleep” on the pillows. I was walking hand in hand with my youngest daughter to our house when she turned to me and said, “Mom? Ms. Janie is my best friend. They had formed such a special relationship that was so dear during an uncertain and stressful time.
In winter, my children would venture into Mrs. Janie’s garden. They had the biggest smiles on their faces as we played the good guys and the bad guys chasing each other. They learned Spanish from Ms. Janie and listened to stories about her childhood. During the torrential February snowstorm in Texas, Ms. Janie watched our children throwing snowballs and sledding down the street from her window. We texted often throughout the power outages and Ms. Janie had to stay with friends due to the heat building up in her house.
When the restrictions began to lift in the spring and the vaccines were administered, my children began to visit Ms. Janie at her home. They played I-Spy, card games and loved to play his piano. My oldest daughter enthusiastically planned a dance and song show. She said she was nervous about playing because she usually only did it for her family. Ms. Janie smiled and quickly replied, “Everything is fine. I am your family now.
I was worried that my twins will be celebrating their sixth birthday during a pandemic. How could I make it meaningful to them? Turns out all they really needed was their new friends, their neighbors. It was a perfect day, with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and LOL Dolls theme, ice cream and freebies. My son’s constant laughter and screaming during Red Rover said it all.
We have come full circle as summer 2021 approaches. We each began to venture further and return to our normal lives. We may not see each other as often as before, but the bond that formed over a year ago remains stronger than ever. My kids keep asking to play with Mrs Janie and Mrs Jeri after dinner and come home full of stories and smiles after their visits.
I had the unique opportunity to see an unlikely relationship that changed my children for the better. The neighbors we barely knew a year ago have become a second family to us. It was the greatest gift to see Mrs. Janie and Mrs. Jeri kissing and loving my children as theirs.