Although iron gates and barred windows seem to be a common home accessory in the US, there is only one house on our street with an iron gated door. I actually can’t recall ever seeing one back home in Canada but I’m slowly getting used to seeing them here.
I’ll always remember that scene in Michael Moore’s movie, Bowling for Columbine, where he tours an average Canadian neighborhood and just walks right into houses because everyone’s doors are unlocked. That wasn’t just movie editing — that is really how we live. I used to think that Americans were all just paranoid but the more I hear about families being tied up in their sleep while their house is robbed just a few blocks from our quiet little neighborhood — well, I’m thinking that there’s a justifiable reason for the paranoia.
I’ve started locking my door.
Yesterday, the boys and I were riding our bikes home and we passed that one gated house on the end of our street. The beefy Hispanic dude that lives there is tatted up from head-to-toe and has every toy a man could ask for: the muscle truck, the speed boat, the Harley Davidson, the sports car, the Man Cave garage…
On a street full of Asians and elderly (who just haven’t sold to an Asian yet), this guy intrigues me. I wonder what the story is. I wonder why he seems to perpetually have a dog house with a For Sale sign in his driveway — it comes and goes but never seems to sell. They have no dog. Every day brings another jacked up truck or fancy sedan in the driveway which leads me to concoct all kinds of stories about the dog house being a non-verbal symbol that the drugs are ready.
While riding our bikes yesterday, we saw these neighbors having an outdoor party for their son’s birthday. When Jack and Liam saw them about to start a potato-sack race, they asked me if they could stop to watch. Here is where the overly-friendly-Canadian in me comes out. Sure, let’s just stop and awkwardly watch some stranger’s birthday party! Why not.
But what surprised me was when the mom who was running the race stopped and asked Jack and Liam if they wanted to play. The next thing I know, J&L are chest-high in potato sacks in a line-up of Hispanic kids.
Yes, my haole kids just hijacked your party.
In typical twin fashion, Liam fell over half way through the race, taking out the strongest competitor and leaving Jack to tumble across the finish line for the win. A moment later, he’s picking a toy from the prize bag while I stand (a bit dumbfounded) on the sidewalk.
I thought about saying no to the prize but the family was just so pleasant and nice that I didn’t feel awkward at all — I kind of felt like we were simply having fun at a friend’s birthday party. Until all the Spanish conversations snapped me back to reality and then I realized how silly it was that we just rolled by their party, played their games and won their prizes.
J&L expressed their thanks for the army men they picked from the prize bin, said Happy Birthday to the birthday boy, and we were on our way. A few minutes after getting home, Jack came bouncing out of his bedroom with a wrapped present in his hand and a huge smile on his face. He proudly showed me the gift he had wrapped for the birthday boy, complete with a hand-made birthday card taped to it, and asked if he could go deliver it.
Proud Domestica Moment, people. Proud Domestica Moment.
I poured myself a glass of wine while the boys walked to the end of the street and gave their wrapped up secondhand toy to this complete stranger. You know that warm feeling that bubbles over your heart when you see your child do something good for another person? Nothing beats that.
I’m proud of my son for his thoughtfulness but perhaps I’m most proud of both the boys’ ability to accept people without judgment. They stopped to watch the potato-sack race with no trepidation, thinking to themselves, “how awesome — a party with nice people having a nice time” while my first thought was, “oh boy, the drug house”. Although I teach the boys about life every day, it’s times like these when I realize how much I can learn from them.
But I’m still locking my door.