The grass is not greener on my neighbor’s lawn. He has crabgrass, bare spots, and clover. A few years ago he did not put Christmas lights up. Sometimes he does not say hi to me when I am outside. We are on opposite ends of the political spectrum on some issues. We come from different types of families. We raise our kids differently. He went to state school. He is a Jets fan. He is short. He is awesome.

Our conversations which are often mumbled grunts and distracted waves from our driveways coming from or going to someplace with three kids in tow are not a measure of what it is like to live next door to my neighbor. After Sandy, we worked together to protect our neighborhood against looting. When they heavy snows fell, we shoveled together through the night. He mows all the way to my driveway, not to the end of his property line, and I fertilize his lawn whenever I do mine.

We push each other to cross experience off our bucket lists. While he was training for an Ironman Triathlon, I was working on my dissertation. He was inspired to take the next step in his career and I was inspired to not be out of shape.

Good fences make good neighbors. Good neighbors with boundaries and respect make good neighborhoods. Good neighborhoods make great kids. Great kids will remember the fun they had on lawns in their green laces. They won’t remember who fought the crabgrass, bare spots, and clover.Image