Being attuned to anything written about children, one of the first things I noted about Maggie Stuckey’s new book “Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup,” was the insertion that neighborhood soup parties provide children with a safer environment.
And then there were comments from parents who said that their children could not wait for the next soup night, that children as much as their parents anticipated getting together with their neighbors.
At her book signing yesterday, Maggie stated how surprised she was that the 30 soup night get-togethers that she wrote about were all in urban areas. Her surprise was that the urban areas were imitating a much earlier era of potlucks in the rural community.
Imagine a neighborhood where everyone has shared dinner together at the same time. Everyone includes old, young, disabled, and even the old grouch who doesn’t like soup. Now imagine how much easier it would be to get to know your neighbor after you have informally shared a meal with him. No longer do our children here our uttered comments about our neighbors whom we’ve never met or don’t understand. No longer do our children build their own beliefs around what they hear their parents talk about regarding a neighbor they have not met.
I believe that most of our children create their own mythology concerning strangers, people who may actually live right next door to them, by listening, watching, and imitating their parents. If a whole neighborhood got together once a month or several times a year this fallacy of thought process would have to change. This is one of those times that change is a good thing. In perusing Maggie’s book last night, one of the soup night hosts said that people with divergence in opinion [ I can to believe this was a polite way of saying having a political difference of opinion] found a way to be respectful of each other because being a good neighbor was more important than the hostilities the politics can create.
So bring on the soup and the neighborhood. Build that cherished area of safety for our children and our community.
Be gentle with your neighbors, they are also our children’s’ guardians when we are unable to be.