Our next door neighbors are preparing to move in a couple of months. It is a fabulous opportunity for them, but it is a very sad prospect for us. We couldn’t have chosen better neighbors. Their children are right around the same age as ours, and we spend the majority of our afternoons in our front yards, watching the kids ride bikes or scooters back and forth, playing make believe games and trading off houses fo sleepovers with the older ones. When they leave, it will be a huge adjustment.
Our children are aware their dear friends are moving, but I do not think they fully understand the concept. With our three year old, that is to be expected. He will probably ask for a playdate with them for about a week before moving on to something else to hold his interest. My eight year old will understand the ramifications to our built-in playmates no longer being around. That will be quite a change for him. So, we are starting now with a good way to bring closure to their relationship as it is now. It is important that my children understand what is going on and that their feelings are okay, no matter what they may be.
Our older child has already expressed some anxiety over the situation. What if someone new moves in and doesn’t have children? Why won’t we be able to visit our friends all the time? When will we see our dear friends again?
Our neighborhood is comprised of an amazing blend of ages and stages, from young couples to families to retired and widowed. So, to alleviate the concern over the new people that will move in, we have already made a point to meet them. Their children are grown, but their grandchildren will visit from time to time, and we will enjoy meeting them when they are here. We will need to be careful not to pick “flowers” in their yard anymore or rearrange the stones or draw with sidewalk chalk on their driveway, but I am sure it will be a good relationship with them. We have also made a huge effort to connect with a few more people in our neighborhood of varying ages, simply to show the children that age does not define a friendship. This will help make the transition to the new neighbors a more comfortable experience for my children.
The distance our neighbors are moving isn’t cross-country, but it is significant enough to realize any visiting will be an effort. Fortunately, our neighbors are moving to a location that is along the route to my in-laws’ house, so we can plan to stop in for lunch or a visit when we are making a trip to see the grandparents. Understanding that we will be able to see them again is helping ease some of the stress of losing a friend.
Since our children are so close, we have started a couple of projects to make the transition and move smoother for everyone. In the next couple of weeks, each child will be given a disposable camera. We will take pictures of each other doing some of our favorite activities: playing in the yard, picnics on the porch, a trip to the Children’s Museum or local park, playing board games and even sitting on the back porch with a pile of books. Each child will create a memory book to keep of the fun times they have together.
We have also arranged for a “goodbye party” for our friends. We are inviting a few pals from school as well as a couple of neighbors from our block to a cookout. Our cookout will be during the week that our neighbors will be moving. The last thing they want to have to worry about is cooking and cleaning, and it gives the children an opportunity to spend some time with their friends. In addition to this, my children will be writing letters to their friends prior to their move and mailing the letters to our friends’ new home. Our friends will be excited to get mail at their new house, and hopefully this will help ease some of their issues with the move.
While losing such a close set of friends will be a new experience for my children, I think that they will adjust well. As a parent, it is my responsibility to recognize the feelings and emotions related with such a loss and help my children work through it. With good communication and recognition of my children’s feelings, they will both find the experience to be healthy and positive.