My Kids – Our Community

Our Truck Garden and Lending Library

We live on a narrow, peaceful street in Baltimore city lined with a mixture of colorful row houses and single-family homes. I counted one day that there are 23 kids from our street who go to the local public elementary/ middle school. It’s a delightful spot, a safe haven in a very violent city, and I recognize how privileged we are to live here. We live next-door to Grammy, my mom, and have several good friends as neighbors.

A few years ago, a neighbor put up a Little Lending Library, which served as a fascination for the neighborhood kids and an endless supply of interesting books for us adults.  One day, in an autumn rainstorm, the little wooden box housing the library fell apart, and we tried to salvage as many books as we could. I asked my neighbor if I could take over the tradition and we set up a two-tiered lending library outside our home. Once it was set up, my younger two kids decided to put some trucks out ‘to lend’, for those who preferred more active pursuits – and the Toddler Truck Garden was born.

We have had many delighted visitors and even more delightful donations to the ‘garden’. My kids say the most popular time of day for neighbors to visit it’s between 4:30 and 6:30 – the witching hours of childhood as any parent out there will know. We call it ‘Toddler Happy Hour’ and believe we are providing a very needed community service for the neighborhood parents – and a wonderful outlet for the energy of our youngest neighbors. As this idea originated with my kids, it has lead to them feel a strong sense of community for our neighborhood – they regularly tidy up the truck garden, switch out broken toys for new ones, and serve as fellow playmates for kids who stop by on an almost daily basis.

The phrase  ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ comes to mind, but usually that refers to adults working with children. In hosting a Lending Library and Truck Garden, I see that my children are part of the ‘village’ that makes up our community.

Any thoughts? Please join the discussion below…

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