Ask Jo: The Neighbor Girl

A lot of interest has come over my neighbor girl.  LOTS!!

We met on August 3rd.  It was the day before my foot surgery.  Although I was in pain, I was going to take Ruby on a walk as I figured it might be my last chance for a long time.  As I came to the end of my driveway she was walking by.  We chatted.  I asked her if she was the new girl that moved in across the street.  She said she was.  We chatted.  I told her about my upcoming surgery and asked if she would be interested in walking Ruby for me.  She was…and that’s how we started being friends.  Every few days she came and walked Ruby for 10 minutes and I paid her $1.

I’ve gotten emails from people asking her name wanting to know more about her.  As much as I would like to say more than I do about her, I won’t.  Someone asked if I could give her a name even if it’s not her real name.  I won’t.

I am really open about our family.  I take pictures of us all the time.  I share what we are doing.  That’s a choice that everyone in our family enjoys.  At times Hubby will say “that can’t go on the blog”.  I respect that.  He has a right to decide for himself how much or how little he wants to share about his life.  Everyone in my family and anyone who I put pictures of on the blog has that choice.

My neighbor girl…nope.  She’s nine.  She is not of consenting age.  I will not exploit her.  In fact, I debated for a long time whether I was going to tell you all about her but she’s gotten to be such a big part of my life, that it is really hard not to.

I can say a few things though….She has taught me so much.  I take so many things for granted.
I thought it was universal that kids would know what a grapefruit is and how to eat it.
I thought knowing how to crack a nut and what a nut tasted like was something everyone knew.
I didn’t know how “exotic” we eat…fish, fruits, etc.

I think one of the reasons why she loves our house is that there are so many new things that she is discovering….things that I thought were common.  Some not so much like playing my pump organ.  She’s been having a blast with it…see?

She LOVES the childcare kids.  I’ve been teaching her anything she wants to learn.  One day she changed a diaper and the little boy peed on her.  I showed her how to change clothes on a baby and got everyone cleaned up.  I thought she’d want nothing to do with the baby…Nope.  She asked if she could rock him and then what did the baby do?  He spit up on her.  I apologized and said she likely won’t like babies…she said nope.  She “figured if she was going to be a mom, she’d have to get used to it”.

As much as she is learning from me, I’m learning lots from her….Some things I wish I never knew but I think it’s my job as the “neighbor lady” to help her sort through some of it just as much as it is her job to provide me with a little entertainment.

One of the hard things for me is that if I let her, she’d be here all the time.  As flattered as I am by that and as much as I know my presence in needed.  I can’t do it all the time.  This summer she was wanting to come every day and hang out with the childcare kids.  I’m thinking we might try to work out a compromise of a couple days a week.  I do pretty good and am very patient but after having kids all day long, I need a break from them too.  Right now she’s often over after school a couple days and typically part of the weekend days when she’s not with her dad.

Another thing that’s hard is she hates leaving.  She worms and stalls and tries to reason ways so that she can stay longer.  Regularly she’s often close to tears when it’s time to go.  Last week, mom said she was actually crying when she got home.  I hate to see that, but she can’t live here and Hubby and I do need time too.

When she’s here, she does whatever I’m doing….if it’s folding laundry, loading the dishwasher…whatever.  At times I’ll tell her I need to write a blog post and she’ll hang out and play with the dolls.  She’s not bother and she’s not any work.

I am so happy that so many of you have been encouraging in your comments about our relationship.  I appreciate that.  Several of you have expressed an interest in being helpful to her.  I want to say this-our relationship is all a process.  She has to like me and trust me for us to have a relationship.  I can’t give her things to buy trust.  We have to earn each other’s respect.  Right now, we’re doing good.  I don’t want to cloud that with things.

I want to make the best of my time with her no matter how long she lives across the road or how long she still thinks it’s cool to come visit me.

Again thanks for offering…I promise I’ll let you know if we need anything.  In the meantime, enjoy the stories I do share.


10 thoughts on “Ask Jo: The Neighbor Girl”

  1. Jo, you are such a good friend. In each relationship, there needs to be respect and balance. You are doing just fine.

    Take care.

  2. She is very lucky to have you in her life Jo. Whether you knew it in the beginning, when you needed her to help you, she NEEDED you too. It is a great story that is still evolving.

  3. I think you are so blessed to have the opportunity to influence the life of a child who would not have the exposure to a family like yours. You are a blessing to her and she is a blessing to you.

  4. I have a large family and the neighborhood kids loved to hang out at our house We devised an easy system. If the flag was up outside then the house was ‘open’ and everyone was welcome. No flag meant we were having family time. Might work for you too…

  5. Oh this gives me such a good memory of some little girls who lived next door to us many years ago – they were at that age where girls are very noisy – giggling, screaming…
    My DH didn’t know little girls, and he would think surely they were being murdered when he would hear screams – he would rush out to save them and discover they had seen a spider ! or, you know, whatever… so fun they were, and him… just enjoy her – the rest you can handle.

  6. I think it wonderful of you to share you time with her and your home. She sounds like a lovely young girl. Enjoy your time together.

  7. What a special relationship you both have!!! It is just your time and knowledge she wants, not things! You are both learning so much from each other! I just think she really needs you right now, something is missing in her life whether it is adult attention or just a friend! Bless your big heart Jo! Please keep posting about your relationship!!!

  8. Jo, I am with you. As a Preschool teacher and director I also don’t mention names online or in conversations in public out of respect for the children .

  9. I was laughing at your description of what you think is universal and what others think. My husband and I could have been born or different planets because he appears to have no idea sometimes!! Our experiences have just been that different even though we both grew up in “normal” households in the same part of the country, in fact not all that far apart from each other. then I am thankful I was raised by my parents! hehehe

  10. I agree with you all, that it is wiser not to mention names or identifying details about a child that is not part of your family. She seems to be concentrating much of her thoughts and life on your house. (the tears) Perhaps have a conversation about what she is doing at school. Good things, bad things, you could talk them over with her, but not give her answers. As you are teaching her, encourage her to think about how she could use the skills in other places – her home, school, other friends’ homes, church activities, etc. Later, ask her what she has done for someone else. This will help her see that she is part of a larger world beyond your home, Jo. Maybe another adult will become her friend as well.

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