We recently moved to a new neighborhood and have met some of the neighbors by chance (aka in passing). Others are either on completely opposite schedules than us or are intentional avoiding us, which remains to be seen. But recently I was thinking about how I’d want this neighborhood to look, and what my role is in bringing that to fruition. My ideal scenario is that we all know and respect each other, and look out for one another. Everyone has roughly the same age kids, but not everyone plays with everyone. I am not sure why, and my Spidy sense is failing me. So I started brainstorming ideas on how to “meet” everyone without being outright rejected for being, well, friendly in the age of Covid.
My first thought was dropping off a note with an intro about our family in everyone’s mailboxes, with our numbers and an open-ended offer to help out whenever needed. Then I thought that I could use this as a learning opportunity about meeting new people, being friendly and respectful. So my latest idea is that I will walk over to the folks houses whom we haven’t yet met, and actually knock on the door, perhaps with one or both of my kiddos, and introduce ourselves.
Here are the pros I see with this approach:
- It gets me a wee bit out of my comfort zone, which is always a good thing.
- It allows me to demonstrate how to take the first step to my kids, what to say and how to respond.
- I am in control* of the way we are presenting ourselves to the neighborhood, rather than letting “word about the new neighbors” trickle down.
Here are the cons:
- We are the only LGBT family in the neighborhood and it is NEVER assured that we are accepted. Or even safe.
- I feel underprepared to manage my or my kids feelings/reactions to any overt or subtle implications that they do not appreciate our attempts to connect. Reading between the lines: I am not sure that I am prepared for rejection. For myself, IDGAF. But for my kids, I would be the one putting them in this potential rejection situation, which is different (for me) than them being at school and being rejected by other kids not wanting to play with them etc etc. Maybe it is not different, but it feels different to me.
So, what choice will I make? If I posed this question to my wife, I guarantee her response would be “let’s just wait and meet them over time.” Which isn’t a bad or wrong approach, but I guess what I am looking for is something new, and all the promise it brings. And if I get real honest with myself, I want to meet these neighbors that I haven’t met yet largely because the ones I have met have made references to the others being “odd.” I am hyper sensitive to labels, and the assumption that there is “one way” to exist in the world. So part of me wants to prove them wrong, and me right, by meeting them and making friends with them. Either way I spin it, this is now appearing like quite an ego-centric activity….
What would YOU do if you were the new family in town?
Having moved a lot but never taken the step of introducing ourselves to the new neighbors, I have also never lived in a neighborhood in which I felt like we were a true community who looked out for one another and called each other by name, This is what I want for myself and my family. Having kids put me into overdrive mode with taking responsibility for and creating our own experiences. So, I am going to take a few deep breaths, then take the leap and a lap around the ‘hood.
See you on the other side.
*this is always a win for me, so this is the winning option.