Neighbourhood parenthood training

Our house is across the street from the backyard of an adult assisted living facility, run by the Salvation Army. A chain-link fence backs the property, which feels more like a park, because this part of their facility is big open green space with a path running through it. We often lament that we can’t cross it for a shortcut to the bus stop, but on the other hand it adds to the private nature of our little cul-de-sac.

As this is our first year living in this house, we’ve had to get used to a few quirks of the neighbourhood. Sometimes there are very unhappy sounding screams and hollering coming from the people who live in the facility. This is just a fact of life here, and we’ve learned that no, someone isn’t being assaulted or hurt — it’s just vocalizations. More recently, we’ve met Genevieve.

Genevieve is a resident of the facility, a cute and very friendly woman who is apparently 38 years old (she told me). I was out raking leaves today and she was out for a stroll. My husband I have both encountered Genevieve a few times while out working on the front yard. She is always very chatty and fully of questions. She obviously remembers some of the details of our chats from time to time, even though our conversations can be very cyclical and repetitive.

I don’t know if I’m so obviously pregnant at this point that she just made an educated guess (I don’t think it’s that obvious, especially when I’m wearing a warm jacket) or whether she had been told previously about it, but she wanted to know if she could see the baby. I tried to explain that it would still be a few months. She wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl, and then the more complicated questions came: how did you know you were pregnant? When did you get pregnant? How do you know it’s a boy? And round and round again with the same questions.

Obviously Genevieve has some kind of developmental disability. But I couldn’t help but think about how her questions were so like that of a little child — the exact kinds of questions I’ll probably have to figure out how to answer some day. Who knew that my neighbourhood interactions would present as parenthood training?