I grew up about 75 miles from Charleston in the small town of Orangeburg, SC.
As a child of the 80's: I wore neon, Reeboks with straps, blue eye shadow, and can remember playing Atari and listening to my walkman. My parents didn't have email, a mobile phone (my grandfather was the early adopter with his bag phone), and the first computer I remember working with was the Commodore 64. My mom kept up with us by making phone calls to neighbors and requiring us to be home at a certain time. Neighbors knew one another, whether they had kids or not, and I could not get away with much, regardless of where I was. For the most part, my brother and I listened. We made plenty of mistakes but fortunately, they didn't leave us broken.
When I was around 14, a friend and I were determined to make it across the neighborhood to visit some boys in our class. You know how it goes: I said I was at her house, she said she was at mine ... we were so convinced it was the perfect plan. We had a few hours to get there and back, thinking to ourselves "piece of cake." Little did we know, our parents had a village.
When our parents returned home, and we were no where to be found, the village got involved. A phone call here, a phone call there, a yell out the back door ... and our plan dissolved. Despite not having the faster, more available technology like we do today, the village of concerned moms/dads/neighbors was networked enough to tend to its youngest. The next thing I know, someone I didn't know very well was shoving a phone in my ear with my father on the other end, relieved but frustrated. Trust it was long night (and couple of weeks!) for me.
Although the village was nosey and not minding its own business back then, today I'm thankful it was in place. Countless times it protected, guided, and strengthened me and even now, nourishes my soul.
Today we have mobile phones, text messaging, tablets, iPads, laptops, email, social networks, even tracking devices within these devices that enable us to keep up with someone. But despite all of this, the village remains a strength of our society.
Just in the last 7 days:
- I get a text message from a neighbor telling me my son is playing air soft in her yard when he wasn't supposed to be.
- I call another neighbor to tell let her know her 5 year old is riding her bike near the front of the neighborhood without a helmet.
- I get Facebook message from a backdoor neighbor letting me know she spotted my dog near the pond but has put her back in the our gate.
- I signed up online to bring a meal to a friend whose mother died.
If you are a friend or a neighbor, you're part of a village. Often times, we question whether to get involved or just mind our own business.
I chose to get involved tonight on my way home from my son's baseball game: a moment I'll never forget. Because I did, a child is safe, a mother not heartbroken, and the "what ifs" irrelevant. There is a time and place for everyone to get involved. I hope the village around me would do the same thing.
Jennifer Bilbro is the Founder of OutToEatWithKids.com, an online resource and mobile application designed to help families search for economical & healthy children’s meals. Visit OutToEatWithKids.com for more information or submit your restaurant info to firstname.lastname@example.org