We had built a house when my son was a few months old (he is 29 now), and my daughter a little over two. It was on a cul-de-sac where the back yard of each house was interconnected. Simply put, those eight houses had a common back yard.
Soon after we moved in, we put a swing set in our backyard for my kids. The next day, I saw a little girl, age of my daughters’ playing on the swings. She giggled each time her mom pushed her. I came out through my back door with my kids and introduced us. It took no time for my kids to become friends with the little girl and me with her mom. In the following few days my backyard turned into a neighborhood playground and a meeting place for all stay home moms.
We started sharing our food and our culture. I was the only non-white American Muslim mom but always felt one of them. From selling Girls Scouts cookies to walking the kids to bus stops or singing door-to-door Christmas carols became joyful and a neighborhood thing to do.
Without any effort, we became watchdogs, baby sitters, molly maids, carpoolers, and rescuers for each other. Kids became “our kids” and we became extended families.
Along with many of my inexcusable shortcomings, I was notorious for forgetting my house keys, frequently locking myself out of of my house to the point of embarrassment. My neighbor helped me so many times that he could open my window without any effort. Perhaps he had acquired expertise in that skill set.
There was never a concern for safety.
As I see fear trying to take over our values and our unity, I started to think about the good old days! The significance of that swing set struck my mind. I did not realize until today what it had done; it had brought all neighbors together as one community.
With all uncertainties, I am still filled with optimism. That same feeling of neighborhood still exists. Today all are coming together towards one common ground, that of American values — as one nation — just as if we all have one swing set to share in our backyards.