When we moved away from Ithaca, we left behind a wonderful neighborhood where kids ran free outside (whenever the weather allowed) and played with each other all afternoon until one by one, we moms hauled them inside for dinner. I was so afraid we wouldn't find anything like that here. My dad was in town for one of those perfect Ithaca late-summer evenings where a dozen or more children (including my girls) were playing happily in a large field near our apartment. I expressed to him my fear that my kids would never have such good playmates again, expecting to be contradicted. Instead, looking out at the field where a pack of children ages 2-8 ran free as their parents held the babies and chatted and watched from a distance, he agreed: "No, you probably won't find anything like this ever again."
At first I was startled and dismayed at his honesty, but upon further reflection, I think he's right. I doubt we will ever find that amazing mix of little playmates in such close proximity again. But here in Sharjah, little by little, we are discovering our new normal, and it looks a lot like yesterday did. It might not be quite the same as it was in Ithaca, but I am so glad to have found it, even if it took a little time.