Do you have one of those neighbors who are always keeping one eye out the window, watching you, watching your kids, knowing their every move?
Yeah, we’ve got one of those, too.
Don’t you hate that?
Our daughter Emma was six years old at the time. One early morning, Emma shuffled out the front door in her little, pink footy-pajamas to pick up the morning paper that she’d spotted from the window. She was out there just long enough to pick up the paper, and for the door to shut (and lock) behind her.
Our neighbors, nosy as they are, were looking out their window and just happened to see her. They watched as she picked up the paper. As the door shut. As she knocked. As she rang the doorbell.
And they watch as nobody answered. And nobody answered. And nobody answered.
So my nosy neighbor watched as his meddlesome wife comes out of their house and asks if our daughter is okay. He watched as she knocks and rings the doorbell for herself…
And he watched as nobody answered. Again. Still.
So my nosy neighbor and his meddlesome wife take my daughter back to their house, where they have a granddaughter that’s a year younger than Emma. And they feed her breakfast. And they talk to her. And they let her play with their granddaughter’s toys. Until later, as they’re looking out their windows again—nosy as they are—and they finally see movement inside our house. That’s when they came over to let the panic-stricken parents know that they have our child. And she’s safe. And happy. And fed. And safe. (Did I mention safe?)
Don’t you hate that?
Our lovingly innocent six-year-old li’l girl would’ve been just fine in that span of time. It’s not like anything bad would’ve happened, right? Right?!
Yeah, right. Between her knocking on our front door and all the time spent at our neighbor’s, she was gone for AN HOUR AND A HALF!
And for the record, I think our neighbors are absolute saints. Thank God they were looking out the window at just the right time to see Emma in her predicament. Thank God they have a granddaughter of their own who is one of our daughter’s best friends. Thank God they have the caring demeanor to take her in, feed her some breakfast, and let her play with her friend’s toys—even if that friend lay sacked out on the couch due to the early hour. Thank God they have the patience to wait for an hour and a half while we obliviously wake ourselves up to whatever the day unfolds.
Do you have one of those neighbors?
Thank God if you do!
P.S. Just so you know, my wife and I are not horrible parents (especially my wife . . . hi honey!) and our daughter does not go wandering off on a daily basis. Usually, she’ll go down to the end of our block, round the corner and look back, a) to see if we’re really watching her (We are), and b) to see if we’re still going to stop her (We do).
In fact, since this little episode with the neighbors, she won’t even go out the front door without one of us or her big brother tagging along, “C’mon mommy, let’s go!!”
Ya gotta love that!