Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson

The challenges of being a parent are unbounded. There are those everyone warns you about, almost everywhere you go: You'll never sleep again. Stick a cheerio in the toilet to help the little dude aim. Don't even bother trying to feed him anything green before college.

There are also the challenges they don't warn you about, and lately they've been centered around explaining abstract concepts to my 4-year-old. To date, some of the more complicated matters to bring to his level have been:

Why popcorn, Popsicles and banana Runts aren't breakfast foods. (But why aren't they? If you happen to know, please tell me.)

That bubble gum is something we only chew on until we are sick of chewing it and then spit out — we DO NOT swallow. Please don't ask why, This is the only food this applies to. Also, please don't swallow toothpaste, please don't ask why.

That as much as we love baby brother, we can't have 10 more babies right now.

The most recent conversations have been around neighborhoods, thanks to Daniel Tiger, a wonderful cartoon based directly on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. The show has great lessons for all age groups, as children's programming often does, but the kid just can't grasp what a neighborhood or neighbor is.

Luckily, I don't think I have to keep explaining it, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

Recently, I was with both my boys buying the most important of weekend necessities (i.e. sidewalk chalk, water guns and donuts) in Meijer. In the checkout line the older son made friends with the customer in front of us. A grandmother to a boy about his age, the two hit it off instantly. She bought him a juice, put a penny in the horse for him and they talked about their upcoming birthdays — his in September, hers October. They spoke in the universal language only grandmothers and grandchildren speak. He gushed about his “new friend-grandma” all evening.

The next day, the two of us were walking around downtown Jeffersonville when Roman noticed an idling F-150.

A huge fan of any large, loud vehicle with wheels, he was enamored and stared with his mouth agape as we walked by. The driver noticed, called Roman over and gave him a pack of gum and a fist bump. I'm not sure who liked whom more, and now Roman does not want to be a firefighter for Halloween but that stranger.

It may sound strange, but these two absolute strangers taught him more about being good neighbors than I ever could.

These are the reasons we moved across the river to the “sunny side” a little more than a year ago, and I'm so glad that the area, the neighborhood, and the neighbors, live up to its name.

For what it's worth, Roman understands what a neighborhood is thanks to our two friends.

Now, if only I can properly explain how WiFi works.

Erin Thompson is a mother to two boys, two cats, one dog and one fish and wife to a man who had no clue what he was getting himself into. When not spending time with that motley crew, she is writing, attempting house projects, and checking her email at

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