Last weekend, we had a ‘street’ gathering. One kind and very persistent neighbour organised it while another kind and very accommodating one hosted. Everyone else brought a plate, a bottle and a child or two. 10 households were represented. It was a BIG turnout. As I hotfooted it home afterwards (a little on the sizzled side) I reflected on how lucky we are to have such a good bunch of people, not only in our street, but also in our extended neighbourhood. Then again, it’s not so much luck as a little cultivation, common decency, politeness and some good old-fashioned friendliness. Here are 5 reasons you should love, or at least get to know, your neighbour…
1. BORROWED FOOD – It’s not just a sugar that warrants a knock on your neighbour’s door. In addition to emergency call-outs for tomato sauce during badly planned sausage sizzles, our fence has seen the passing of curry powder, bi-carb soda, soy sauce, food colouring, dogs, children and just yesterday, some butterfly band-aids. Neighbours are much closer, more convenient and cheaper than your local grocery store, especially late at night or when your recipe is almost cooked and the obscure final ingredient is not in your pantry.
2. TEENAGE BABYSITTERS – Finding a teenage babysitter in your street is a ten-point bonus for everyone involved. You trust this whatever-comes- after-Gen Y’er and you know their family. You also know if anything goes awry, mum and dad are a few doors down to help. Speaking of Mum and dad, they’re relieved they don’t need to drive him/her to their babysitting gig, and you’re pleased not to be driving them home when you roll in after midnight. The teenager is pleased to use someone else’s wi-fi for uninterrupted live-chat on Facebook, and the kids don’t know any different because they’re normally in bed while all this takes place. Win-win, win, win, win.
3. SAFETY HOUSE – Remember the ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ program? People volunteered to put a sign at their letterbox to tell kids it was OK to seek help there if needed. I hope they were police screened or something, but I was a kid back then, and don’t remember that bit… Wouldn’t you rather your kids actually know the people who live around you? That way, if they ever need to seek help on the streets of suburbia, they have a range of places to choose from and people they are comfortable and familiar with too. It’s not just for the sinister stuff either. An elderly neighbour once scraped me off the road and cleaned me up after I stacked my bike spectacularly outside her house. It’s times like these your kids will appreciate a familiar face, a warm hug and a bottle of dettol. Actually probably not the dettol.
4. GOOD FRIENDS, FUN TIMES – As a kid, some of the best fun you ever have is with your neighbours. It’s like having siblings only without the rivalry. You roam around looking for adventure after school and during school holidays. You band together for trips on the school bus or walk to and from school in a pack each day. You spend weekends in each other’s backyards and swimming pools and eating dinner at one another’s tables. You make secret hideouts and cubby houses and generally have the childhood you’re supposed to have when you can roam and socialise in your surroundings without being scared of the ‘weirdos’ you might find outside your front door.
5. NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH – No, not the program I mentioned earlier, just actually
neighbourhood. People who know one another look out for one another. If one
neighbour is away, another might pick up their mail, take out their bins,
babysit their fish or feed their guinea pigs. We’ve done all of these in our
time. Our lovely neighbour has bravely offered to mind our beloved furry friend
for 5 days while we’re away. It
also helps to have the eyes and ears of your neighbours just in case anything
suspect really does happen. In a happy neighbourhood, everyone has each other’s
back and you just feel...safe.
|Our furry friend on a not-so-furry day|
It sounds like utopia, but like I said at the beginning – I’m lucky. It’s not hard to be a good neighbour. If you’re a nice kinda person, you shouldn’t have to try. You don’t have to live on top of each other, but you do live beside each other, so better to hold hands, eh?