13 August 2006


My son J has a new friend. "Ann2", pronounced like "ann two", is the closest I can think to match her real Vietnamese name. J is fat so I take him outside to play with the neighborhood kids whenever possible, to cut back the amount of time he spends in front of the TV, munching on snacks, most likely. Of course, in these times of Megan's Law and Amber Alert, I always stay outside with J, usually a few houses away when J "hangs out" with his friends. Ann2 lives a few block down. I haven't seen her mother and I would assume the man she's with is her father. Ann2 isn't allowed to go beyond her front gate. The poor girl always stay inside her front yard and talks to the other kids that way. We would hand her toys and she takes part in whatever game the kids are playing, all the time kept in the yard by some invisible leash. The other day, J drove by Ann2's house on his bike and wanted to play with her. I took his bike home and came back with some of his new toys. First, J and Ann2 played in the front yard's narrow walkway, then later they moved into her house. J just squatted on the tiled floor near the door, I was able to see him all the time. I stayed outside, sat on the frontyard of a vacant house. I could hear J laughed and sang, so I knew he had a good time. Later, he told me Ann2 had some girl toys and also Leggo Thomas the Tank Engine. A neighbor's kid was playing with another kid upstair of where Ann2 lived. This neighbor's daughter normally roams the block at almost any time of the day with no adult supervision. The neighbor even asked me how long I would wait, "two hours?" Eventually, J wanted to go home. When he shouted for me, I was right there to take him home.

It's sad that life in the big city can be so unpleasant. I would love to live someplace where my son can run free in the neighborhood, where the other kids don't have to be tethered to their front yard. I want to have my front door locked only at nights, not having to make sure it's locked every time I run back and forth between my house and some neighbor's home where my kid is playing at. One of these days, I'll move out of New York City.

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