August 3, 2011

Making friends is the answer

I learned an important lesson from my daughter last night.  It was National Night Out, when people are supposed to turn on the porch light and meet those who live around them.

I'm lucky.  I actually know the people who live next to me, across the street and a few doors down. But when I saw that a home near our neighborhood park was having an "official" National Night Out meetup, my family decided to go for a walk and meet some new friends.

Let's say it was a bit...awkward.

As we walked the long block to the home, I was telling my two year old daughter Marley that we were walking to meet some new friends.  She was instantly excited.  When we got close, we saw people barbecuing out front (which I love!)

My little girl immediately spotted another girl her age.  They smiled at each other, grasped hands and didn't let go.  It was so sweet.

The adults on the other hand were a little off-putting.  As my husband and I said hello, they made this face that conveyed the message, "Who are these people?"

Determined to make the best of it, I told the group we were out for a walk to meet our neighbors.  One older woman awkwardly said "Ok" and that was it.  I then introduced myself and they didn't even respond with their names!!  They just said hi.

I'm sorry.  I thought the point of this night was to meet people you did not know.  It seemed these people just wanted to hang with people they already knew.

But then I turned my focus to my daughter.  She and her new friend were smiling at each other and in my opinion, becoming fast friends.

At what age to we lose this ability?  Why does it seem so much harder for adults to smile, shake hands and become pals?

After standing there for a while and not exactly feeling welcome, we decided to go to the park.  There was another girl Marley's age and again, the two instantly became friends. The girl's mother was very nice and we made small talk as we watched our kids play.

THIS is what I was after and what I believe is the point of National Night Out.

If we want to feel safe and take pride in our community, we need to reach out and get to know each other.

And one way to do that is to be like children.  Smile at that neighbor, reach out, shake hands and become friends.


  1. I agree with you that adults have lost the ability to become fast friends, I think you have missed the point of National Night Out.

    This is a national program that extends far and wide. I participated while stationed with the Navy in Japan! It is a chance for neighbors, not just to meet each other, but to bind together to send a message that crime is NOT welcome in their neighborhood. It is also the opportunity for local law enforcement to make important connections with the community. We have to remember that the police are our allies, not our enemies.

    Community oriented policing is a HUGE issue and should not be taken lightly. Though NNO is only once a year, I urge all adults (not just parents) to become involved in their neighborhood watch programs, and local crime prevention teams.

    Ok. Off my soapbox =)

  2. You are absolutely correct about the purpose behind NNO. My point was that it is hard to help protect your neighborhood if you don't know your neighbors. And I was just sharing my one experience in trying to meet new people. I agree with you that people should become more involved in their neighborhood watch programs every day.

  3. We had an Ice Cream Social in my court :D