Friday, January 12, 2007

community parenting, pt 1

Random moments are the best.

Banana and I headed to one of our usual joints for dinner after work. I was fried and had exhausted most of the dinner options at home. The grocery store was a proposition I didn't want to mess with, not to mention the dishes that still needed to be finished. (These are the occasional joys of single parenting.)

At said restaurant, a hip sushi joint near our house, we ran into our closest parent-and-kid friends. As it turned out, they were waiting for another family of mutual friends. Suddenly, the night had a whole different shape, and in the end, we were five parents and five kids. The kids had a great time. The parents all had a good time until Parent D decided her five year-old had had enough. Her husband (Parent E) stayed with the other two kids. In general, the dynamic functioned like this: we all watched all of the kids; we all managed difficulties and policed each other's kids; there were no boundaries.

This is what community is meant to be. This is what Hillary Clinton meant when she wrote It Takes a Village. We are not just responsible for ourselves. We are responsible for our community. The end result is in how the kids deal with the world. When Kid 2 fell, I picked her up, and she clung to me until she was ready to get back to play. When Banana was being a little contentious, other parents corrected her. That's how it should work. Kids need a world that both loves them and holds them in check--and that isn't just the two people most responsible for rearing them.

As a single dad, I am realizing that I have to accept this more than most. Oy.