August 29th we moved from a suburb of Madison to Eau Claire, Wisconsin. With moving to a smaller city there is one thing that we did not expect to happen on the first day we arrived. Our 10-year-old daughter was initiated into the neighborhood gang. Roughly an hour after we closed on our new house, shortly after the moving truck had pulled into the driveway, a girl on a scooter and her mom pushing a toddler in a stroller introduced themselves. They had heard that we were moving in from the previous owners and could not wait to say hello. After a brief introduction there were a handful of children and parents at our house. We were over the moon with the warm welcome!
Little did we know, that this was just the beginning… A little while later the girls whisked Taylor away, only to return her at bedtime. The following day, with a rat-a-tat on the door, she was lured away by the same children. When I went to look for her at lunchtime, I learned that she had already been fed and was happy with her new clan -without us. Later that night she begrudgingly returned at bedtime.
This routine continued over Labor Day weekend. Only she started coming home with the markings of the neighborhood gang – paint, markers and glitter. When we moved into what we thought was a quiet neighborhood, we did not realize that we had to worry about our daughter being brought into a tight knit band of local children. This small mob runs our street with bicycles and scooters.
I thought hordes like these were a thing of the past. Dirty feet, squeals of laughter, whispers of plotting and planning when to see each other again – even after spending multiple hours together. Now, to make matters worse the adult gang leaders were extremely polite, friendly, brought homemade gifts (baked bread, cookies & egg rolls) and an invitation to a bonfire.
I think that our family has no hopes of breaking free of this local gang. We are here to stay and really I could not be more grateful for this transition into our new neighborhood. It is so refreshing to see kids playing outside and running between the yards to each other’s houses. So glad that the kids had been counting down the days until they could add a new member to their clan.