Flashback~Forget About it-Friday

I grew up in the Fan District of Richmond, Virginia. My parents moved us there before it was the cool thing to do, before the yuppies showed up. As noted here, I was a bit afraid of rapists and such, but the trade-off was that I grew up in an environment that was filled with diverse and interesting people. Very interesting people lived in the Fan in the 1970s-1980s. The neighborhood was a mix of artists and the elderly, students from nearby VCU, single moms, gay couples, and young families–just like mine. At the time I thought nothing of the fact that I was living next to (I grew up in a row house, so when I say next to, I mean next to) what could be loosely defined as a cross-section of Americans, but to a great extent, I was. I learned a lot about tolerance and acceptance growing up in the Fan, but through osmosis not lectures.

One of the people my brother and I spent time with was a musician who lived next door. His name was Gary and he played in what was one of Richmond’s most popular new wave bands: Single Bullet Theory. Across the street from us lived another musician, Robbin Thompson, who along with Steve Bassett, penned and sang one of Virginia’s unofficial state songs, Sweet Virginia Breeze. Both Gary and Robbin found the time to talk music with my brother, who at a very young age determined it to be a passion. And they didn’t talk down to him, they treated him with respect. They chatted with me too, usually about sports. I knew I was a kid and they were the adults, but because of those conversations, I also felt important and valued, something that all children need to feel.

I am grateful that I was able to grow up around adults who were both talented and giving. Giving of their time and willing to share their experience and talent. My neighbors always made time to talk to me, even if it was just a wave of the hand followed by a quick greeting.

Unfortunately, I rarely talk to my neighbor’s kids, I would, but I never see them. That wasn’t the case when we lived in Atlanta, but my kids were younger then, so maybe I was outside more often? I do try to give the children I interact with, be they friends of my kids, children of my friends, or just someone I might run into while I am out and about, some of my time and attention. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important positive interactions are, for both the kids and adults. It really does take a village–y’all.

No doubt that my parents had the greatest influence on me when I was growing up, but I’d put my neighbors, not my teachers, in the number two slot. So, for today’s Flashback~Forget About it-Friday I am giving a virtual shout-out to the grown ups who listened to and encouraged me when I was a kid–the ones that weren’t paid to do so.

What role did neighbors play in your life when you were growing up?

And, if you want to read another take on this topic here’s a great post from Hilary.

While you think about this, here’s a video from Single Bullet Theory circa 1982. Gary is wearing glasses and playing guitar. I was in the crowd for the concert scene–thankfully, I cannot be identified. Watch if for no other reason than to laugh at how similar today’s fashions are to those worn then.

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4 responses

  1. You are so amazing with kids! My daughter loves you because you take the time to talk to her and play with her. Most adults tend to pat kids on the head and tell them out cute they are. You took the time to get to know her. THANK YOU!

  2. a great post! just as i was getting ready to comment i saw your link to my post about neighborhoods too. thank you!

    it sounds like the neighborhood you grew up in was awesome in all of its diversity and color. i love that. and i can relate to not seeing your current neighborhood kids much too. the comment you left on my post, about essentially your kids’ community will be what you make it, regardless if you have to drive them to friends’ houses or not – it made me feel better about where we are at.

    when i grew up our neighborhood was not an eclectic mix of people but rather a really tight-knit group of similar (socioeconomically) families, all with kids around our same age. three of the five or so families on our block – the parents still live there. growing up, it was like we had a very fluid extended family – everyone took care of each others’ kids and all the parents looked out for us. which gave us a lot of freedom to play anywhere on our block, because at any given point, at least one parent would be in the vicinity to keep an eye on us. i think that’s one of the big things i feel sad about – that, at least where we are right now, our girl won’t have that. that being said, we live around some awesome grown-ups, and f already is developing friendships with many of them.

    finally, thanks for making me think about how i am with other people’s kids. i try to be kind and respectful and fun but it’s easy to forget what an impact EACH of us can have on kids. it totally takes a village. great post!

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comments Hilary.

      It is easy to forget how much our interactions with kids (positive and negative) really do linger with them, and possibly for years after. I really was inspired by the adults I was surrounded by, and am grateful to them for sharing their time.

      I was happy to share the link to your blog–you tell good stories! 😉

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