Photo: "Empty Backyard" Darien, CT
My dear friend, Denise moved from NYC to VA a few years ago. I imagined her meeting all sorts of fun suburban moms on the playgrounds or walking past their yards say hello to neighbors playing outside. I was wrong. She told me she is often the only one at the playground as her sons wander around in shock coming from the loud, crowded jungle-gyms in the city. Meeting mom friends or new friends for her kids would take some digging around.
For years I wanted a country setting for my kids to run around in, play with kids down the block and explore the outdoors. We're finally here. Surrounded by woods- not too deep - but just right for exploring. My kids do play outside. I kick them out constantly and they don't complain. Every so often Beckett asks if he can come in, take a break and watch a show. No prob.
Here's the thing- there aren't really any other kids that play outside. All of the houses around us within a three street radius have loads of kids ranging in ages up to high school- but we never see them. As I drive around and peek into the beautifully manicured lawns of Darien and New Canaan, there is not one person in sight. It's spooky. It doesn't matter what time of day it is or season. No one is ever outside. Today just made me sad. I drove through New Canaan today. It was 6:00PM, well after day camps were let out. People should be arriving home from work, it was sunny & not too hot. Backyard jungle gyms, gardens, and pools were completely vacant. The mass amounts of money spent on landscaping and outdoor kitchens with deluxe gas grills seems so wasted. I'm assuming many kids are inside playing video games, but is that really it? I'd love to knock on the door of a house with a killer jungle gym and ask when the last time the kids used it. No kids OR adults to be found. Doesn't anyone ever pick up a hose and I don't know- spray the driveway?
The best memories of my childhood were in my backyard, all the neighborhood kids over, on their bikes, on our swing set, in our kiddie pool, chasing our dogs, drinking kool aid, making mud pies, catching fire flies, jumping rope, hiding and seeking. Grandma & Grandpa would always set up the lawn chairs and watch the chaos, mom would set up the radio on the back patio blast some Rod Stewart and start us dancing and Dad would eventually throw burgers on the grill....and nailed to the tree in the corner of our front yard where all the cars passed by was a bright yellow sign that said:
"CHILDREN AT PLAY".