A few weeks back we received an invite posted through the door from some of our neighbours suggesting a bank holiday street party. Given that the last street party I attended had a mandatory red, white and blue dress code to celebrate the Queens silver jubilee back in that hot summer of '77 it was clearly time for me to give it another go in the hopes that this time I would not skin both knees and elbows following a bitter dispute with Dianne Holland over who had spent most time in the paddling pool. Fortunately there was no dress code (or paddling pool) this time around, just a generous kitty for food and a request to bring your own bottle.
As our road is a cul de sac we were able to block it off from traffic so the kids could whizz about on their bikes and scooters and spent a lovely afternoon mingling with our neighbours, many of which we knew by sight, but had never actually spoken with before.
Don't get me wrong I am not a naturally neighbourly person. My policy is usually to get from my car to my front door whilst manhandling children, shopping, handbag etc with the least distractions, and I have been known to circle the block unnecessarily so as to avoid encountering another conversation about the weather with a random neighbour. However I think I have mellowed somewhat with age and with putting down definite roots in a road where I want my children to grow up. Despite the fact that it is quite a small road, there are a lot of under five's, and these are the children I have fond hopes will be part of a neighbourhood gang of pals with my two as they grow up.
I desperately worry about the lack of freedom our children have these days, with my biggest fear being not strangers or illnesses but the level of traffic which is now on our roads and the attitude of some people behind the wheel who drive their vehicles as if they are a weapon. As a personal injury solicitor I am all too familiar with cases of children being catastrophically injured on the road, and I think it is this fact which will make me reluctant to let my children out and about on the streets, exploring, having adventures and learning how to manage risk and make decisions. However I do want them to be free to play on the road we live on, and so it is nice to get to know the people who share our little road with us and who will hopefully be happy to facilitate this in the future by careful driving and by keeping a general eye on the road's younger residents.
Anyway, the party is still in full swing at 9pm as I post this, but I am a bank holiday weary mum who has been up since 5 am with two rampaging toddlers, so I am now finishing this post, making a cup of tea to retire to bed with and leaving the partying to those with more stamina than I!