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I live in a house with my fiance, a friend and two dogs on a totally domestic area in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Every other house on my block contains at least 2 families and at least 4 kids, all of whom are completely intrigued by our nice dogs, newly sodded yard and huge house all to ourselves. The relationship we have developed with our neighboorhood kiddies has advanced through many levels. First we were just learning their names, their kinship with eachother and which houses they each lived in. Then we got a feel for their varied skill levels in English and conversated with them in both languages, practicing our Spanish and helping to enforce their bilinguality. As the months progressed we became more and more used to seeing our little homies and conversing with them but always from opposite sides of our cast iron fence because they continued to border some fear of being unprotected from our huge, benign pets. Then, just last week, things changed. Our next door buddies ventured into our yard out of nowhere and fully mingled with our pups for the first time.
Mike and I loved it at first, as more and more of the local youngins took the cue of bravery from one another and entered our realm as we sat on our front stoop drinkin beers and watching. Now, however, it has gotten a little ridiculous. Although they help us water our grass and hang out with our dogs for unlimited periods of time, it is a little disconcerting that our house and yard are constantly swarming with shorties. The only way I can convince them to leave is by telling them I am going to clean or do some work; then as soon as I want to chill out on my back deck with a nice J, they are all over again. At least their grateful parents give them cans of beer to bring to us.

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