2009.03.30: March 30, 2009: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Community Development: Sacramento Bee: Jill Duman writes: My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Peace Corps Tunisia : Peace Corps Tunisia: Newest Stories: 2009.03.30: March 30, 2009: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Community Development: Sacramento Bee: Jill Duman writes: My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely

By Admin1 (admin) (141.157.16.199) on Thursday, April 09, 2009 - 5:27 pm: Edit Post

Jill Duman writes: My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely

Jill Duman writes: My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely

When we lived in Salinas years ago, it wasn't uncommon to have lonely colleagues from his work show up on a weeknight, some of them men from as far away as Australia, missing their own children while they watched my babies macerate dinner on their high chair trays. The food (if I was cooking) was never anything great, but there was always enough to share, along with a truly great glass of wine and some medium-great conversation. But mostly what we extended was a place for anyone who needed one and didn't mind that the table was sticky. I think that's the real secret of the village concept abundance over scarcity, inclusion over exclusion, a willingness not just to offer when asked but to proffer when the need exists. If you're going to school, what's another kid in the car? If you're taking a raft of kids to the movies, take your own and add more until you reach minivan capacity. If one mom is overwhelmed, take two more kids and have her call you when she comes up for air. If you're taking out the garbage, drag someone else's to the curb. It's the ultimate potluck, and if everyone brings more than they consume, there is always enough.

Jill Duman writes: My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely

Life in the village: Complicated, messy and so rewarding
By Jill Duman
Special to The Bee
Published: Monday, Mar. 30, 2009 - 12:00 am | Page 13A
Last Modified: Monday, Mar. 30, 2009 - 8:20 am

I'm knee-deep in unexpected domesticity on a weekday night, whipping up chicken casserole and banana bread. The banana bread is for a mom at school whose dad died over the weekend. The casserole is to feed my son's best friend, who is spending the night with us because his own mom had to go back to the hospital for treatment. In an hour, I'm off to a class with another mom. While I'm gone, my neighbor will come and sit with my son and his friend until another parent drops my daughter off from her dance class.

If you can follow all that, and it sounds plausible, then you might be living in a village, too.

Ah, yes, the mythical village. Hillary Clinton helped immortalize the African proverb about needing a village to raise a child. As a mother, I've called on that village, helped create that village, and sometimes been the village taxi. I can't imagine parenting without one.

When I worked in Sacramento and lived in Davis, there were times I worked the phone to find someone to swoop in and grab my kids in time for the 6 p.m. deadline at day care. In those days, I said a lot of thank-yous and more than a few silent prayers in gratitude for the moms who picked up my son for T-ball or offered my daughter after-school play dates.

Since I've been home, I have made a point of replenishing the well of parental favors by offering rides to dances, haircuts and skate parks. I am the happy supplier of poster boards for school projects, snacks for rumbling stomachs, and bad radio station rock for junior high girls incapable of traveling two miles in silence.

About a year ago, my best friend and I found ourselves off on vacation at the same time. We vowed never to do that again, and we were serious. We are each other's backup, and like the president and the vice president, we can't both travel at once.

Without her, I am truly stuck when my husband is out of town and I need to be in two places at once. Without me, she has to worry when her own classes run overtime and her daughter needs a place to go after school.

But the truth is, I was a villager long before I had children and way before I ever realized there are people who eat, sleep and drive only with members of their own clan.

When I was growing up in the Bay Area, there were always spare kids around the house kids who, for whatever reason, needed a place to belong. I remember friends of mine and friends of my brothers who helped drink enormous quantities of milk and barely went home for clean clothes during the summer.

In my own grown-up household, we've simply expanded the concept to include not only kids but also dogs with vacationing owners and adult friends who are either passing through town or just need a little company and chaos to feel included.

My husband, who once lived in rural Tunisia as a Peace Corps volunteer, understands the village concept completely. When we lived in Salinas years ago, it wasn't uncommon to have lonely colleagues from his work show up on a weeknight, some of them men from as far away as Australia, missing their own children while they watched my babies macerate dinner on their high chair trays. The food (if I was cooking) was never anything great, but there was always enough to share, along with a truly great glass of wine and some medium-great conversation. But mostly what we extended was a place for anyone who needed one and didn't mind that the table was sticky.

I think that's the real secret of the village concept abundance over scarcity, inclusion over exclusion, a willingness not just to offer when asked but to proffer when the need exists. If you're going to school, what's another kid in the car? If you're taking a raft of kids to the movies, take your own and add more until you reach minivan capacity. If one mom is overwhelmed, take two more kids and have her call you when she comes up for air. If you're taking out the garbage, drag someone else's to the curb. It's the ultimate potluck, and if everyone brings more than they consume, there is always enough.

You know you live in a village if your life is complicated and messy and interconnected to more people than you can possibly explain.

It's life in all its joyous cacophony. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Jill Duman is a journalist, parent and part-time playground attendant.





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Headlines: March, 2009; Peace Corps Tunisia; Directory of Tunisia RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Tunisia RPCVs; Community Development





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Story Source: Sacramento Bee

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tunisia; Community Development

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