My dog and I stepped outside for our regular evening walk. The air was cool in the shade, but warm in the sun. As we walked down the drive way, a group of the neighborhood’s kids bicycled by. They waved to me and I waved back at them.
One of the girls stopped and circled back around on her bicycle, carrying a bottle with red liquid and a toy sword. She stopped in front of me and said, “I’m a vampire! Can I pet your dog?”
”As long as you don’t turn him into a vampire dog, that is fine,” I replied. How else could you reply to such an introduction?
She pet him and said, “Those boys better watch out. If I run out of blood I am coming after them next,” she pointed to her bottle with red liquid. Then she ran off to chase them.
We continued on with our walk for a couple blocks and then headed back home. On the corner, one of the elders of the street was working in his garden. “You seen those kids riding around?” he asked.
”Yeah I have,” I replied, “Looks like they are having a lot of fun.”
”Well, they gotta be more careful,” he said, “They don’t look both ways when they go out into the street, and those cars go flying down the street. They could get hit. I’ve talked with their mom, but they keep on doing it.”
As he said this, the girl on the bicycle rides up with her friends. She walks over and climbs on the fence.
”You need to be more careful young lady,” said the elder. “You need to look both ways when you go flying down that driveway. A car could hit you if you’re not careful.”
“Well,” she said thoughtfully, “I’m a vampire, so I can’t die because I am already dead.”
The elder seemed a bit unsure about how to respond to this line of thought.
“Vampires have to watch out for bat traffic though,” I said in an attempt save the elder.
“True…” She replied, “Well, we should get some bat signals so then people know that there are vampires and children in the area!” She and her friends ride off on their bicycles.
Children are great at breaking down our boundaries with their playful nature. They can be good for the soul and bring delight, joy, and silliness into our neighborhoods. They also need good folks to look out for them and warn them about the dangers of the neighborhood. Our elder on the street was looking out for them, whether they knew it or not. Maybe the little girl did not fully consider his warning to watch out for cars, but to have an elder looking out for her is a gift to our neighborhood. When we take the time to reach out to each other and show our concern, we are letting the other person know that we care. I imagine she will remember that some day, how he cared about her.
Finally, she offered a great idea! Putting up signage so folks know that children often play in this area could really help with the problem of cars flying down our street too quickly. Sometimes the best ideas come from kids, even when they are pretending to be vampires.