Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Girl Next Door

Here is what I would like to say to the child who is always here, "do you have something to do at home? Maybe help your grandmother? Unload the dishwasher or put away laundry?".

Early in the summer she appeared at the back door, in the morning as I turned on the tea kettle, the rest of the house still sleeping. She startled me; in the city people do not show up at your back door, or your front, both being behind gates and locked entry doors. She waved and I opened the door, "the girls are still sleeping", and she skipped off to another house.

She's been back every day, and more often than not she finds two very willing play mates. From time to time I must tell her no, that they cannot come out as they are reading, or cleaning their room, or doing something far less exciting than running from yard to yard with no direction or purpose. Occasionally she catches me alone, as she did last week when the girls, back from the beach, were showering, and I was savoring those moments of anticipated solitude on the back deck with a book. She sat down on one of the chairs when I told her the girls were busy inside.

"What are you doing?", and she looked as though she just might stay.
"I'm going to read my book, at least until the girls are finished showering."
"And then what are you going to do?"

She stayed. And I put down my book and learned that her mother has just returned after a long absence, exact whereabouts unknown,  and that her father lives in a state very far away and calls occasionally. That she lives with her grandmother and brother, and now her mother, who works as a waitress in town, and that they have two bedrooms and no dishwasher, so there is no dishwasher to unload.

And here is what the child who is always here said to me, "You spend all summer with the girls? Really? You do everything with them? That's amazing".

Come on in, but you may need to help with the dishes.


Nellie said...

Bless her heart! And - bless you for issuing such a welcome to her. You may be the one who makes a difference in her life.

northsidefour said...

Nellie, she has been a good friend to the girls, and I am so grateful for that. I hope we have given her a safe place to spend some wonderful summer time!


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