Wednesday, May 07, 2008
It seems lately that my yard has become the default spot for the neighborhood kids to play.
They are a motley bunch ranging from ages 4 to 12 and comprised of El Salvadorians, Egyptians, Indians, a French-American half-breed, a couple of unidentifiable-origin'ed Caucasians and my mutt children. It can get to be a bit much at times, trying to make sure the older ones don't outdo the younger ones (or expose them to "mature" subject matter). For the most part the kids are all well-behaved and cordial to each other and they know they I have a rule that if they all can't agree on something or make piece with each other after a disagreement then the "party is over" as I like to say.
I had to start keeping disposable cups on hand because I was finding that I had to wash too many cups on a daily basis; water is of an utmost premium here in the drought-ridden Southeast.
The other day they were playing soccer in the backyard - a hectic, discombobulated sea of bodies and heads going in all directions - when I heard the Indian boy, who was playing goalie, yell out defensive strategies.
"Nobody's listening to me," he said as I walked outside to inspect the ruckus.
"Well maybe you should tell them in Punjabi," I said.
He laughed and then let out a tongue-trilling bombardment of sentences.
"See," he said. "They won't listen to me in Punjabi... because THEY DON"T KNOW PUNJABI Greg!" he said.
The next day I was with my 4-year-old and we made a pit stop at the drive-thru teller at the bank.
"Why does that girl have a dot on her head?" he asked.
"It is part of her culture," I told him.
Later that day I told him to ask his neighbor who then explained to me that the size of the dot indicates whether the girl has reached adulthood, is about to get married or is married.
"So her small dot means she's old enough to date?" I asked him.
"Girls don't date," he said. "Marriages are arranged."
"Oh yeah right," I countered.
Today was one of those early release school days which means the kids began congregating in my back yard slightly after 2pm. My son came in and asked if he could play over at the Indian boy's house. He's the oldest but for some reason - one that everybody knows - I'm just not comfortable with a 12-year-old being held responsible for my 4-year-old.
My Indian neighbor stepped up and said that his grandmother and sisters were home.
"Okay," I said much to the delight of my sons and their friends, a rousing round of Hi-Fives ensued.
"But I'm going to walk you over there and make sure it is okay."
Grandma came to the door and I asked her if it was okay that my boys play there.
She looked at me and then at her grandson.
He translated my inquiry.
"She said it's cool," he said.
"Thanks dad," my oldest said with a shit-eating grin on his face.
"Behave yourself," I said.
"I will," he said. "We always do."