Most children, particularly young ones, don’t care at all about privacy in their yards. Rather, they want to play, and when they reach a certain age, they’re very keen to find playmates to share in their play. Most parents ignore this fact when they erect high bushes and fences for privacy.
Melissa Wardy’s family in Janesville, Wisconsin, proves that letting the world see and hear you improves your family’s social life. They live on a corner bordering two busy roads, so parents and their children frequently pass by their yard to go to the neighborhood public school or to the parks in the neighborhood.
Many people would worry about privacy in a lot like that, and make sure that their children are completely sealed off from all that activity. Not Wardy.
“My kids [ages 6 and 4] regularly play in our back yard on their own, and they holler over the fence to kids and their parents passing by,” says Wardy. Often, they succeed in enticing playmates and their parents to stop by. “They park their bikes and big wheels outside the gate and come right in.”
Wardy clearly enjoys the fact that her yard gets so much attention in her neighborhood, so that it has become a great kid hangout.
“One Saturday about a month ago, a dad came by with his two kids to discuss a sidewalk project with my husband,” notes Wardy. “Those kids and mine were so loud playing that kids three houses down heard them and came over. Then, a couple of kids across the street woke up from their naps and heard the racket over here, so they came over with their parents, too.”
“When it became dinnertime, kids weren’t ready to stop playing, so then, it turned into a last-minute barbecue. People went home and brought back sweatshirts and some food, and we slapped together a barbecue with buns and burgers and whatever we had. It was a really fun time!”
The infectious, spontaneous energy inspired by kids seeing and hearing other kids play made this wonderful day happen. Explicit invitations from one adult to another – via email or text or phone call – require all sorts of small talk and politeness, and, usually, scheduling in advance. Sometimes, it’s better to let your kids’ screams of laughter be the invitation.