I saw the future yesterday, and it was this:
The friends down the block came over for an hour because mom had a quick school meeting. And there was no (well, not very much) drama.
The kids are getting older — mine’s a solid three-and-a-halfer, the neighbors are 3 and 5. So sure, there’s snatching and hoarding (the long-suffering 5-year old has pretty much given up: if her brother wants something, she just hands it over wordlessly).
But mostly it was eeeeeasy. Last year, same kids, I would have been running around, inventing activities and smashing allegiances (what is it about having an odd number of preschoolers that turns everything into ostracizapalooza?).
I know you’re thinking, well, no shit, of course neighbors trade kid-sitting with each other — it’s the only way to stay sane. And I’ve done that a little bit, but not much. But setting up an exchange is not as automatic for stay-at-home dads as for moms. I’ve seen women plan playdates within ten minutes of knowing each other.
But the kids are getting more independent, more people are getting to know me (thanks be to the flying spaghetti monster!), and we watch each other’s kids.
At this rate, who knows? Maybe we’ll manage to have a babysitter by the time the kids are in middle school!