Our Side of the Street

Seems our house is the neighborhood hang-out, which I really like for the most part. Ours is the driveway where everyone congregates to play basketball. Ours is the yard where the mega sword fights take place. Ours is the front door where all the kids line up for their pick at Zippy’s arsenal of Nerf swords.

And since the weather has been so nice lately, the boys have been playing outside more and more. And something that’s made a big difference in their outside play: a bunch of the once-tiny boys on our street are now big enough that their parents are letting them come down the street to play with my boys. And at least a couple of them are surprisingly … ummmmm … noticeably … ummmm … strikingly … crazy and loud and a tad-bit frightening with a sword. You get the picture.

One day this week, Zippy was outside playing with a multitude of small boys, involved in a rigorous and serious Nerf sword battle. There was much screaming and wailing so I went outside to check it out. I am not yet used to the screams and wails of these newly-grown neighbor boys so I couldn’t tell if their screams were from pain, fear, anger, fury, or fun. Seems they were mostly screams of fun with just a tad bit of fury which is the tad-bit frightening part I mentioned earlier. I decided I had better stick around and keep an eye on these new, wild boys.

As I watched, the boys ran, screaming and wielding their swords, from one side of the street to the other. And back again. And back again. It was really a scene to take in.

Now, I should tell you that our street is not a busy one. Not many cars travel down our street. But some do. And oftentimes those cars travel faster than I wished they would.

Well, what I noticed was that the boys (including my 10 year old) would run across the street without ever glancing up to check for cars. On the rare occasion they did look up to check for cars, they did so in the middle of the street. We all know that if you wait until you are in the middle of the street to look for cars, chances are you will get squished by one before you decide to look up. This was not okay.

I called Zippy over to where I was standing. I told him no more crossing the street in the middle of a sword fight. “Either you choose that side of the street and stay there, or you choose our side of the street and you stay there.” I checked for understanding. It was clear that he heard and understood my meaning as he repeated it back to me.

And he ran off to play again, obviously choosing our side of the street as he hollered to all the boys to come over to our side and to stay there. And pretty quickly the crazy battle migrated over to our side of the street.

It wasn’t but a couple of minutes later that I spotted Zippy in the street. Flabbergasted, I called him over to me again.

“You are done. Go inside. You’re done playing,” I said, shaking my head.

“What did I do??” Zippy begged to know.

I looked at him with disbelief. “You were in the middle of the street!” I nearly yelled.

And then as serious and as genuine as he could be, he revealed to me exactly how little he had understood my instruction. He reminded me just how literal he is and how very careful I must be when giving him commands or instructions. “I wasn’t in the middle. I was on our side! You told me to stay on our side of the street!”

And I stopped.

He was right. As I replayed it in my mind, I could see him clearly on our half of the street. He carefully had stayed on our side of the street — not veering to the center of the road, but staying way to our side of the street. In the street, but on our sideof the street.

I laughed out loud and hugged him close to me. I re-explained what I meant by wanting him to stay on our side of the street. “I mean stay on the lawns on our side of the street. But no road. If your feet are in the street at all, you are disobeying. Do you understand?”

And I think this time he did. And he obeyed carefully.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mimi on April 27, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    Bless him! And bless you!


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