I was trying to figure out a way to ask my 5-year-old for an opinion on this current subject and I came up with this story.
You and your family decided to keep the family house in the suburbs. The house where you were brought up and where your parents were born and raised. Your grandparents were immigrants and built the house. You are very proud of that fact. Your husband knows how important the house is for you and he gave you his support, even though he is a city kind of guy.
The garden is the most beautiful feature and it is important to you because your parents taught you how to keep it and protect it; just the way your grandparents had taught them. Ideas that passed from generation to generation and you definitely want to pass it along to your children.
You know this garden is a good source of income and will allow you to feed you family and your pets. You have some bunnies, a turtle and other little animals that live freely in your garden. You have trained them not to eat your veggies by feeding them when they are hungry. After all, it was your choice to have pets; they are your responsibility.
The house is located in a great neighborhood. Your grandparents had a good vision when they chose it. With great schools and walking distance parks, it’s beautiful and quiet. No fences or bordering walls required, after all, the crime rate is low and your neighbors are great people.
To one side, your neighbors also keep a vegetable garden and occasionally you both like exchanging crops. However, to the other side, your neighbors, for some reason you don’t know, have decided not to put much effort and time into theirs but they occasionally enjoy your crops when you share them. They do like pets, but you don’t really understand why they don’t feed them sometimes. May be they don’t have enough to feed them? You are wondering why they decide to have pets if they can’t feed them, but it’s not up to you to judge them, right?
After a few years of good crops, winters have started to prolong and the weather is not helping your garden. Veggies are taking too long to grow and the crops are falling short. You barely have enough to feed your family and your pets.
You have seen your neighbors’ pets coming to eat from your garden once and again and have talked to them about it. They said they would do something to train their pets but results are not showing. Besides, for as cute as their bunnies are, some of them are really mean and only come to your garden to destroy it, chew on a few carrots and then go back to their holes.
Since talking to your neighbors did not work, you started to think about building a fence around the house. You know a fence around the garden would not look good, and besides, after all, you have trained your pets not to mess around with it. So you think a fence around the house is a better solution.
Is it costly? Yes. Is it a perfect solution to it? Probably... not. The bunnies are smart and can find the way to make holes and go through it. They know there’s a better future for them on the other side of the fence. After all, their owners eat but don’t feed them well. You are convinced that it will be a way to stop them for a while; giving you time to think of a better option. Well, may be, this will give you time to get better crops and then, collaborate with your neighbors in training their animals. That could be an option.
The thing is, who is going to pay for the fence, right? You certainly think that, since it’s your neighbors’ bunnies that are trespassing and it’s a common border, they should pay for it. Your family talked to you into at least paying half of it and... well, they are right, you own half after all.
You also understand that it’s you that is being bothered by their bunnies. They certainly don't have a problem with that! Well, you know for sure your neighbors will not want to pay for it, how are you going to ask them is the question. Oh boy! That is a hard one.
What would you really do if this were your garden? Would you build the fence? Would you ask your neighbors to pay for it?
Well, I know what my 13-year-old would say, but I was curious to know what a 5-year-old would say. So, I went ahead and read the story to both and asked him to give me an answer first. Do you want to know what he said? He was reluctant to answer at first. May be my story had a lot of detail for a 5-year-old’s attention span. So I kind of emphasized on the problem: my neighbor’s bunnies eating my food when I don’t have enough. Then, I asked: “Would you feed the bunnies or would you build the fence?” To my surprise, he said: “I would feed the bunnies!” How sweet!!! He definitely understands the concept of sharing!! I do need to start working on the other concepts involved in the matter. Will this be a good solution to the problem, well, definitely his call! So I supported him and told him that I would work together with him.
Feel free to share this story with yours, I'm curious to know what your kids say.
Something to think about...