Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I feel sorry for the kids next door

in the adjacent apartment, two energetic boys, the oldest I guess about 7, Jamaican family. They're well cared for, no doubt about that. Two parents. Mom handles them better than dad. But they never leave the apartment except for school & church. All day long on mild weather weekends I see parents bringing their children to & from a large, safe playground three blocks up across from Kean University. Entire families pushing strollers. It has swings, a great jungle gym, & a seahorse fountain on hot days. Restrooms. Usually an ice cream truck parked nearby. It may be the most multicultural place I've ever seen. & noisy. I don't think these two kids even know it exists except maybe as a rumor. Their parents certainly do. There's a rough edge to my neighborhood to be sure, particularly this busy corner on some evenings & a few of the apartment buildings I can see from my window. But it's generally a safe working class area, predominantly Hispanic, lots of kids, a core of good single family homes on the side streets, even a touch of affluence here & there, & it's fine in the direction of the park. A friend of mine owns a house on a very nice suburban street behind the playground, about a five minute walk door-to-door I've done many times after 11 pm & passed people walking their small dogs. She lives next to a friendly rabbi with three teenage sons. I don't know what my neighbors are so afraid of up that way that they keep their kids inside & isolated on perfect playground afternoons.


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