|Our inviting new storm door|
Growing up we had a rule; it wasn't written or said, but when the front door was open, neighborhood kids would stop by because they knew we could play. Sometimes kids would stop by when it was shut too, but were mostly told that we were still doing chores or busy, but when the front door was open, we knew freedom was imminent.
This was in a different time, a time when we only had window A/C units and they were only turned on in certain rooms and only on the hottest of days. An era when video games were so new that barely anyone had them and nobody I knew had cable. As kids we played "Scatter" or "Kick-ball" outside from the moment the door opened until well after the sun had gone down with "Ghost in the Graveyard" through every yard on the block because no one had fences and almost everyone had children or remembered what having children was like (and there was no such thing as a professionally landscaped yard). And honestly, I remember those kids names but they were only friends by proximity; I kept in touch with very few after high school and almost none after college. It wasn't necessarily the people themselves but the atmosphere of Summer in Suburbia. We played through swarms of mosquitoes without my mom spraying us with bug repellent or sun screen or handing us bottles of water—we just moved to the shade and drank out of the hose when we needed it and ran around until we heard my dad's whistle; at which point we sprinted home, knowing that if we didn't, our "curfew" would be moved up an hour the next night. When we got in, we would wash our feet in the tub, be covered in calamine lotion, and sent to bed.
~~~~~~~~~~Done with Nostalgic Interlude~~~~~~~~~~
This really nasty storm door didn't fit with the ideal that I wanted my children to grow-up with in Middle Class Suburbia. How would people know that we could play if they couldn't even see through the glass slats to know if our door was open?! and how could we leave our door open with piles of bugs flooding our house through the gaping holes in the mesh and around the door?! We (obviously) couldn't afford new screen-doors so I looked around the house and sold everything that I could. I did the valuable stuff on ebay and the rest at a garage sale that I advertised on Craigs List. I got just enough to cover 2 new standard storm doors (sans installation, that would need to be my DH and I -- which, I might add, we did without an epic fight). In the end it turned out that the back door was anything but standard and the expenditure was much more than the higher end front door but that story is a bit of a downer and not for today. All I can say, is thank God for Menards lenient / customer friendly return policies.
This is summer number two and let me tell you that the doors are all I hoped and dreamed. They seal nicely and the screen is easily stored. When the door is open, kids stop by on their bikes, just to see if my kids want to go to the pool or the park or hangout. Sometimes it is too hot (and a different era) and they stay here and eat kettle corn and play video games. Sometimes families out for a summer evening stroll stop in for a glass of boxed wine or a can of Coors Light. Often I look up and we have 10 kids laughing and playing in all different parts of the house (mostly in the cool oasis of the basement), singing the latest pop (or silly song from Spanish class) at the top of their lungs. There are crafts and buckets of water and chalk. There are snacks and lemonade and watermelon and Costco $2 frozen pizzas. WiFi battles, epic stories in-acted, and made-up games with complex rules in the backyard.
It is this part of Summer that makes me so satisfied. The lazy and relaxed Days, spilling into Evenings and filled with games and music and idle amusement. I love these kids (and these parents). I know in my heart that this can't last and that someday things will change and they will grow apart and Summer will end, but for now, we rush through our morning of chores to open that front door and let the laughter pour in.
(and yes, that is dead grass around our front steps... We don't bag our grass clippings and sweeping outside is not one of my favorite things to do...)
WARNING-- FYI, if you decide to adopt this "open door" policy, be aware that you will have every Jehovah's Witness or sales person or girl scout at your door. Best you get good at saying no (which although my husband disagrees, I am actually very good at... I just like to yes.... which he also should be grateful for ;0)