Sockpants and Super Heroes: The Village
I grew up in a rural neighborhood located above Palisades Park, just west of downtown. From my perspective it felt more like a little village than a neighborhood. We didn’t pay attention to addresses where I lived. If my parents told me to take some vegetables to the Peterson’s place, I would make my way that direction in the most direct path I could find, regardless of whether it meant trespassing on someone else’s property.
Things were a bit slower paced back then. We didn’t have the array of technology at our fingertips like we do today. That didn’t mean word didn’t travel fast when I would step out of line. Playing naked in roadside ponds, setting a field on fire with fourth of July fireworks, and hog-tying the annoying kid who lived down the road are just some of the many village reports my parents received in my younger years. It drove me nuts that my village kept such close tabs on my activities. It seemed as though I couldn’t utter a single swear word without it being reported back to my folks. And while it frustrated me to no end that I was constantly monitored by the residents in my village, there was a tremendous amount of security knowing that there wasn’t a single house in a two-mile radius where I couldn’t run for help, should the need arise.
As an adult, I now live in the same neighborhood I once terrorized as a child. While it still resembles the neighborhood from my childhood, it no longer has that same village feel. The names on the mailboxes are now different and very few people in my once tight-knit village would recognize me, let alone the faces of my children.
When life recently threw me an unexpected curve ball and I found myself homing and caring for the close friend of my teenage son, I felt overwhelmed. I laid in bed unable to sleep worrying about systems for transient youth, educational supports for kids like him who were behind academically, and my biggest stressor, finding a suitable wardrobe for a kid who appeared to have only the clothes on his back. On one of these sleepless nights, I found myself missing my childhood village where a family’s hardship was met with immediate support without the need to even ask.
As is often the case, perspective is found at the bottom of a hot cup of coffee enjoyed in the bright morning light. I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t have a village. It just wasn’t made up of roads and intersections like it had when I was a kid. My village was surrounding me in the form of a virtual network of friends, fellow parents, and extended family that I stay connected to thanks to social media. That morning I asked my virtual village to help connect me to resources that would help me support this child who needed my help. Within two hours, several friends had delivered new and used clothing to my office. Within 48 hours, I had received packages in the mail from friends from far distances who wanted to lend a helping hand. Within days, this young man went from having just a backpack filled with a few tattered school supplies to having a complete wardrobe, duffle back, travel mug and lunch box. My village also supported me by helping me find programs and services that were designed to help this young man be successful and stay in school.
A few days after receiving his new wardrobe, he told me that kids were talking about the clothes he was wearing at school. My blood immediately began to boil as I shouted, “Are they teasing you?” Laughing at my response, he quickly replied, “No. Not at all. They told me I looked nice in my new clothes. I kind of like that the girls are staring at me now.” I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. “Did you have to spend a lot of money on all these clothes?” I shook my head. “No. My village of friends put these things together for you.” His eyes got wide. “Wow, you have nice friends.” I smiled and said, “Yes, and now you do too. It takes a village to raise a child. Welcome to my village. Just be thankful they didn’t send you any sockpants and super hero costumes.”
Holly Lytle is the mother of three and is the founder of The ISAAC Foundation, a local autism non-profit organization. In her free time Holly enjoys chronicling her many adventures of motherhood mishaps in this column.
Use this screen to search and sort our products. Use the search features to filter the products you are looking for. Use the "sort by" links to sort your results. Use the page numbers to view another page of product results.
Click the "Add to Cart" button to add that product to your shopping cart. You can enter a quantity larger then "one" to add multiples of the same product to your shopping cart. Click the "Remove One" link in the cart summary to remove a quanitity of one of an individual product. The shopping cart summary will display the products and options in your cart and total amount due.
Click the Product title or the "More Details" link to view all the details of this product.
If the product is full you will see a "Wait List" button. You can click this button if you would like to be notified if we add capacity. You will receive an email if capacity is added at which time registration will be on a first-come first-serve basis.
If the product is not ready for purchase you will see a "Notify Me" button. You can click this button if you would like to be notified when this product is ready for purchase.
Some products can only be purchased through our partner. In this case you will see an "External Register" button. Click this button to purchase through our partner's website.
View our Privacy & Refund Policy