As I was running flat on ideas for this letter, my editor was kind enough to share her letter with me for inspiration. Reading it, I was rewarded with thoughts of growing up in an area where “it does take a village to raise a child.”
I grew up in a small Nebraska farm town named Wynot. (I have heard all the jokes, so spare me the one-liners!) This town was populated with about 220 retired farmers and maybe a dozen kids my age.
Mom would say, “Do your chores and get out of my hair. But be home by dinner.”
No thought was given as to where I was going. With one or two well-placed phone calls, mom could not only tell where I was, but also who I was with and what I was up to! Any parent had the full authority to scold us or send us home. Then they would follow up with a call to mom, telling her why the bad boy had arrived home early.
Fast-forward 30 years. Location – Glenwood Springs: players – the French family with four kids. Even though Glenwood is 50 times the size of my hometown, the parent network (the Village) was still alive and functioning when my kids were growing up. Sometimes one of them would come home after an afternoon or evening out with friends and silently slink into the house. The worst situation they could hope to encounter would be mom and dad sitting in the living room then suddenly turning the television down.
Fast-talking was my kids’ means of survival. But I would interrupt, raising my hand to mean “silence”. Then I would ask a simple question, “How was your evening?” That would lead to another round of fast-talk and a story that was about 70 percent accurate. My wife and I would offer only a couple of comments. The dumbfounded look on the face of our offspring was priceless!
How did we know?
We would struggle to keep from smiling and simply reply, “the parent network!”
Just like in Wynot, a couple of well-placed phone calls told us the answers to where, who and what were our kids were up to.
Another 10 years have passed, and Glenwood Springs and its neighboring communities have grown. Parenting has evolved—now texting in combination with phone calls gives us instant communication. But the watchful eyes of the parent network still have their place.
I cannot say this strongly enough. Even though our social environment changes with the speed of a click of a button, the parent network will never be replaced. Watchful eyes, along strong guidance and compassion, will always make a Village.