All we’ve got are Brownies!

An easy way to grow neighbourhood connections

By Mathea Viles

 

Let me tell you about an unintended social experiment that my tween and I conducted this week.

On Sunday, my youngest son and I decided we would ‘letterbox drop’ to find him some friends in our new neighbourhood.

So I typed up a note that he dictated to me. His letter went like this (identifying details have been changed):

Hi, my name is Sam.  I live on the corner of Yellow Bark Drive and Marble Cres.  We moved in on the 1st of March.  I’m 11 years old and I have two brothers that are 20 years old.  Because my brothers are so much older than I am, I’m really looking for some friends to play with.

The things I like to do are: riding my bike and my scooter, playing board games, playing laser tag (I have my own set), handball, climbing trees (we have a great tree in our front yard), bushwalks and of course, playing electronic games.

I would love to make some friends, it doesn’t matter whether they are boys or girls.

I can play most weekends and some afternoons after school.

If there are any kids who would like to play with me, my mum’s mobile is xxx xxxx xxxx

Thank you

Sam

We printed out 50 of these including a photo we added to it.

As we walked around dropping the notes into letterboxes, my son would stop any adult in the street and ask if they had kids his age.  He would then hand them his note and we would chat.  As a result, I met two lovely families just down the road, one with kids (younger than my son, but whose Dad said they may come for a play one day) and the other with older kids.

When we finished, we felt it had been successful in that there was a chance the father we met would bring his kids down to meet us and maybe we might hear from others when they collect their mail.  

That night after dinner, there was a knock on our front door.  I opened it up to find 3 women (1 lady about my age and her two young adult daughters in their early twenties).  They held out a tray and said ‘we don’t have any kids for Sam to play with, so we brought him some Brownies instead’.  Wow!!!!  I was blown away. We then spent an hour chatting to this wonderful family who lived 8 houses down.

 

Image by Suzanne Rowcliffe from Pixabay 
 

That night, my son and I talked and even though this family had no young children, we both enjoyed the fact that we had found some fabulous new neighbours.

At lunch time the next day, the doorbell rang and there stood a father, with a 10yr old boy.  ‘Hi’, the father said ‘this is my son Joe and he would like to play with Sam’.  Fast forward 6 hours and Sam and Joe have had a great afternoon, and I have now met and chatted with Joe’s father and mother – more wonderful people.

That evening, I received 3 more messages.  Tom who is 10yrs old and loves riding his bike, Adam who is 11yrs and doesn’t think there are any other kids in the street and Simon who is also 11yrs and plays basketball along with his sister who is 10years.

On top of that I also hear from a mother who has a 3year old daughter (so no playmate for Sam) but wanted to welcome us to the neighbourhood anyway.

Sam and I are totally amazed by the connections we have both made in the space of 3 days.

One of the mum’s across the road, congratulates me on a ‘brave’ move.  For me, this had nothing to do with courage, it was all about retaining my sanity with a child who relentlessly asks to play with friends.  Perhaps though I wonder, is this a fearful thing for some people to do?

All I can say is if you have never letterbox dropped to find new friends either for yourself or your children, (from this experience, tweens and their parents seem very receptive to this idea), go for it.  Perhaps your tween wants some new or different friends or perhaps you want a walking  buddy or card game partner. If so, why not send out a letter to the neighbourhood and see what comes back.  The worst case is you could end up with brownies.

 

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