My children were raised in a great neighborhood. Their school was nearby and there were many other children (mostly boys) living in the area. They all formed close friendships that are sustained even to this day. The neighboring families all knew each other, with the common connection being our children. Those boys were never without a "mom" watching over them. With our houses scattered within close proximity, the "mom network" was always at work with "eyes on the guys" regardless of where they were hanging out. Yes, they did play video games to some extent, but unlike what seems to be happening to children these days, they were still of a generation that disappeared into the neighborhood and found ways to entertain themselves in the outdoors.
Those boys would gather year round to play. At the wedding, we (their parents), shared stories and memories about all of "our boys". Yes, we had collective "ownership" of them all. They spent many hours on Rollerblades, playing street hockey on the dead end street. They went sledding on the hill located at the school next door, and built snow forts in the snow piles dumped by snow plows. In the fall, they played in leaf piles collected from the many trees, tossed around their football, and traveled in a "pack" for annual trick or treating on Halloween. In the summer heat, they filled their massive Supersoakers and chased each other for hours. They played at the "big toy", the large wooden play scape at the school next door. They traveled on vacation with each others families. Enter middle school. They rode in carpools together and they played school sports together. I vividly remember driving home a car filled with sweaty, smelly young guys, fresh from practice on the football field. We parents would sit together at games cheering wins and lamenting losses. The boys dabbled in movie production, creating and appearing in funny video stories. They experimented with music, writing songs, singing and playing their instruments. They even created a modest CD that they sold to friends at school (they charged so little, they basically gave them away). They all learned to drive at the same time, and we parents all fretted together. Homecoming, prom and other social activities...were all shared experiences bound by their friendships. Only when attending college, did their physical bonds become separated by distance. But social networking and texting connected them still. They made trips they to each others schools, to visit and watch football together.
Now, the "village boys" have all finished their studies, and are moving into the work world to make their way and embrace the next stage of their lives. Their bonds endure and they are moving forward "together" as friends.
It was a wonderful night of happiness watching the little boy I knew all grown up stepping into the next phase of life with his new wife. Yet I still could not erase the image of a mischievous little boy I remembered, from my mind. The "village" was there to witness the event. One of the special moments of the evening was near the end. As the festivities concluded, I noticed most of the guests had already said their goodbyes and departed. Yet who remained? The neighbors. Parents of our "village boys". Everyone of us lingering, reminiscing and shaking our heads and asking "Where did the time go?"