It was 4PM on a Tuesday afternoon in March. The short walk had me sweating because it was Houston, and in Houston you sweat even if you think about taking a short walk. So I opened the front door of my friends house, walked inside and grabbed a soda out of the fridge. Then, I plopped down on the sofa and grabbed the Sports Illustrated that they had sitting on their coffee table and waited for them to discover me in their house.
It’s pretty easy to remember the details of that day….
Because it wasn’t that day, or maybe I should say, it wasn’t JUST that day. That’s what I did every day. Every day I got home from school, dropped off my stuff and left for Mike’s house (Yes, his name was Mike too. Our last names both start with R as well. I’m not sure why people always thought that was funny, or even interesting, but whatever). Every day I walked right in and grabbed something to drink (usually I asked).
I remember reading once that you know you have real community when you can walk in a friends house and grab something to drink without asking.
Sometimes I wonder if they felt as much community with me as I did with them? Did I get on their nerves? Did they want me to go home? I’m sure they did.
I sit here looking out my office window and watch a half-dozen neighborhood kids running around my front yard spraying each other with our hose. Pretty soon a few of them will come running inside soaking wet and shaking like a big shaggy dog until our foyer looks like a public men’s room.
Last night one of those kids had a sleepover. They were up laughing and yelling until 1 in the morning. It was…fun. Before that the all those kids rode bikes and created a mess everywhere they went up and down the street.
You know, now that I think about it, there hasn’t been a day this week that kids from around the neighborhood haven’t filled my house with chaos like the first scene in Home Alone. Too often I find myself wanting, like Kevin McAllister, to make it all just disappear.
But I don’t want that. Not really. I want our house to be the place kids come to play. I want them to grow up having a “home away from home” where they have fun. The parents on this street are all so great, but I really want to be involved in the lives of my kids and their friends as they grow up. It’s easier when they are around. I get to see my boys live out their friendships. When they are kind and encouraging I see it. When they treat someone poorly I see that too.
I always thought that my friends parents were just strangely nice people. Maybe they were. More than likely, however, they felt the way I do. They had moments grumpiness, asking if it’s worth the cost of having a perpetually destroyed house. For them, it was, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today if they decided otherwise.
We have a big opportunity here, and I’m not gonna screw this up by asking them to go play somewhere else.
“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than raising up the next generation” – C. Everett Coop