Great Neighbors


Hardly a day passes that our 5-year-old neighbor, Zoe Hoffman, doesn’t pass our front door on her bike and consider stopping in. She kept me company one afternoon while my family was busy with everything else. She could “sit” with me to hand me water, the phone, or anything else that I needed. Things were peaceful, and she ended up drawing pictures with colored markers.

She drew a poster size sketch of my house. There was no doubt it was our house. It had windows and doors in the right places, but there were a lot of other things going on in the picture. It was great if she was showing that our house is a busy place because it usually is, but she could have been depicting the clutter we are accumulating outside – my husband is almost as bad a “messie” outside as I am inside.

Somehow we started talking about getting spanked and Zoe said, “My Dad only smacks me to teach me right from wrong.” I knew from her look and the way she said this that a great deal of basic common sense had already settled itself around this little person. What a great attitude to accept discipline as a necessary part of life that is for her own good.

We are lucky to have the Hoffmans living next door to us. They have the same outlook on child rearing that we do. Mark and I have always used a little physical intervention applied with common sense to discipline our kids. This has helped to raise caring, contentious people for years and it still can.

We are also fond of Zoe’s brothers. Zane is nearly 2. So we’re just beginning to get to know his personality. Michael, 6, has always been a charmer. I will never forget one morning when he and Zoe had been left in my care. I was fixing him a sort of brunch – eggs – and I said, “I’m putting salt in your eggs, do want pepper?”.

He looked at me matter-of-factly and said without hesitation, “Yes, freshly ground pepper.”

This might have raised eyebrows for some, but I happily picked up the special peppercorn blend that I used in my grinder all the time and said, “OK, no problem.”

This comes from Michael watching TV cooking shows with his Dad, who does much of the cooking at their house. That reminds me, I could use some of your recipes for these pages, Jon.

(To be continued)*

*This column was printed with the gracious permission of Wendy Hoffman.

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