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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wouldn't You Like To Be Her Neighbor?

I was worried that Baby Sister would be sad that the kids were going back to school today.  I tried to start the day with cheer by parking the pig on the dining room table.  He was wearing a party hat in school colors. What isn't funny about a giant pretend pig in a hat? How many kids found that at their breakfast table? I got a few smiles demonstrating how hard it must have been for him to hoist himself up with his chubby little legs while we slept.

I knew Baby Sister would miss the constant hum of exciting games, dress up, pretend, and ever present pals.  Even before she was dressed, she snuggled up next to Biggest Brother on the couch, maybe hoping he was in his school uniform for fun.  But ever steady, she marched out the door with them and insisted on carrying her own (empty) lunchbox.  She was cheerful.  Even when Big Sister was so happy to see her teacher again that she forgot to kiss Baby Sister goodbye.

The rest of our morning included meeting a friend for coffee and running the errands we didn't want to do as a pack of 6.  So off we went to the post office, library, dry cleaners, news stand, and our whole itinerary of Sesame Street-like stops.  We were moving at a leisurely pace. It was sweet it was to hold her chubby little hand and really hear her chatter.  We gathered sticks and stomped in a few puddles. Getting closer to home, I reflected on how so many of our local storekeepers have become our friends and neighbors.  I probably didn't imagine that when moving to a big city. We ducked our heads into more than a few shops and waved through windows at even more to wish our friends a happy new year.

I didn't need to worry about Baby Sister.  Our neighbors took great care of her this morning.  Not knowing she was missing her best buddies, they all brought her (and me, too) such cheer.  The Metropolitan Policemen guarding a certain former Prime Minister's home near us fussed over her more than usual.  At our news stand, the kind husband and wife surprised her with a little pencil case filled with school supplies.  A few doors away, a dress shop owner waved as we went by, then opened the door to chat.  Then she gave Baby Sister a pretty leaf she was using to decorate her store window and a tiny jewelry bag, too!  (What will Big Sister say about all this bounty?)

We walked along to the cleaners and to visit our building's porters.  Neighbors all.  Waiting on the building porch was our neighbor from across the hall. He announced that Americans are all friendly.  I'm so tickled he thinks so.  I'm grateful for the friendliness of our new neighbors who made Baby Sister feel so busy and special on her first day home alone.

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