Today I met a potential future version of myself that I both admire and hate at once. He is the dad that lives at the end of my street, and has three young children. Let me explain.
I live in a townhome in a community of townhomes. This particular dad, we’ll call him ‘Corner Dad’, lives well, on the corner of the block. Our community is setup to where all the driveways face each other, and since he’s on the corner, me and everybody else has to pass by his house to get in and out. Refer to the drawing below. This information will be relevant in a minute I promise.
I admire Corner Dad very much. As neighbors I have often seen him playing with his kids outside, and he really gets into it with them too, participating in their games and having fun. In other words, he’s not just there watching them he’s usually present and active in his interactions with them. I live in the Midwest where the winters are long and cold, but even then I see him out there with his kids making the best of it. Sledding down hills of snow, building snowmen, what have you. Come the holiday season I even see decorations on his house that were obviously made by his kids and are the kind of artwork only a parent could love. These pieces of work are proudly displayed in his windows and on his door; facing out, no shame in his game. He obviously puts his kids first, which is why I admire him. Kudos to you, Corner Dad. Unfortunately his laser focus on only his kids is also why I hate him.
He seems to only care about his kids and not us neighbors. In his children’s frequent play outside, they are 100% of the time playing in the driveway area out behind his garage. Now there’s really nothing wrong with this unless you consider again the layout of our community. Because of the layout all of us neighbors have to drive by his driveway every time we come in and out. And as attentive as he is, even Corner Dad cannot keep tabs on three kids at once, especially when they’re playing outside.
In one of these instances several months ago, his youngest child who is an baby boy not capable of walking yet, apparently got away from Corner Dad and ended up just crawling around on the street. At this same time, which was around 6pm on a Tuesday, I happened to be coming home from work. As I rounded the corner (at a reasonable speed mind you), I found myself having to yell out ‘there’s a baby in the street!’ (refer to the drawing below). This exclamation was to nobody in particular since there was only me in my car and a baby in the street, with no other person in sight. But the shock of this random and totally unexpected thing caused me to cry out. Soon Corner Dad appeared to pick up the baby and rush him quickly back into the garage, with not a word to me while I sat in my car in shock.
I was feeling terrible for days about what happened and how close of a disaster that was. However as time passed I just got more and more angry at Corner Dad, and his selfishness. It’s great that you play with your kids, but please don’t ignore the rest of humanity, especially your neighbors. I realized how unfair a position he put us all in. Every time we come in and out there may be a human obstacle course where it should not be. The community should be able to expect that its roads are clear of pedestrians for the most part, and especially babies that can’t even walk! Add to the fact that our community actually has large grassy areas where children can and do play, it is even more ridiculous that Corner Dad sees fit to let his three kids roam on the street (Again look at the picture. Yes, all the green stuff is grass, and is perfect for playing on. There are also sidewalks for bikes). God forbid anything ever happen, but if it does, then surely Corner Family would suffer the greatest but the unfortunate neighbor who was just trying to come home from work would have to live the rest of their days with overwhelming guilt. Everybody loses.
For these reasons I hate you Corner Dad. But you teach me a valuable lesson. Make that two lessons. The first is that even though I will put my kids first, I will not ignore the broader situation. It is unfair to ask others to sacrifice or risk themselves because of my kids. Secondly, I learned to watch for babies on the street!