Our driveway is partially shared with our new neighbors the Kupersmiths. Janine and Kupe have three kids – Jordan (girl, 12), Evan (10) and Rachel (6). They’re good people. I mean, they are really good people and occasionally I fret over keeping up.
Soon after moving in I spotted all of them singing show tunes together while cleaning out the garage. I can’t get my kids to transport their dirty clothes into the hamper from the spot on the floor directly next to the hamper. Margo was actually drawing on the new cabinetry at the very moment a commendable rendition of “It’s a hard knock life” floated through our window.
The Kupes invited us over for dinner and apparently Janine bakes her own bread on Fridays. They say a prayer and each family member breaks off a piece of the bread. A Jewish toast if you will, which for an Irish slug like me, is just impossibly wholesome. Of course, promptly after this genteel, family moment I had to explain that the reason I was a little late for dinner was because I had inadvertently stolen a minivan.
Explanation: I thought it was a five year lease, turns out it was only three and I drove that rig around for three months before realizing this. I went in to the dealer ready to be cuffed and was sent home in a shiny new 2013 model (some penalties and fees applied). So, yeah, while the Kupes take family bike rides and urban hikes and actual classes to learn more about the history of Decatur, the minivan I park in our partially shared driveway is stolen, okay? They probably prayed for us to get our act together after we left.
I take some solace in the fact that the median age of their kids is 9 while ours average out shy of 5 but we’re definitely taking notes. At Rachel’s birthday party, Janine orchestrated a camp theme in the back yard, replete with tents, songs and highly organized games. It’s making me rethink the “Piñata-and-a-Pony-Keg” theme I had planned for Elliott’s birthday…hmmm.
Professionally, Kupe traffics in Business Analysis. He lectures and teaches and mentors and motivates and replies to emails at 4am. He just co-authored a Business Analysis…for dummies book for that popular series. Since I am a small business owner I can’t help but think he wrote it with me in mind. Next, he can write a book for the Paynes, his neighbors on the other side: Business Analysis…for PhD’s. I’m hoping this village is on board with helping to raise a couple of Sullivan children because it can only help.
And here’s the kicker: The Kupersmiths organize a St. Baldrick’s fundraiser for childhood cancer each year and Evan has voluntarily had his head shaved for it every year since he was six. This hair, by the way, is outstanding. It is red and curly and ginormous and he grows it out all year in anticipation for this event. Then he raises money and shaves it in solidarity with children undergoing cancer treatments.
Oh, and the kids are musically gifted too. I know, I know, crimony! Route 41 kept the fundraiser grooving featuring Evan on drums and Jordan on bass and the equally talented and youthful Gavin and Ethan Mcdonnell on guitar and keyboard (check Youtube for their cover of Cee Lo’s “Forget You”).
Suffice to say that anytime I hear the basketball bouncing in the driveway, or the hula-hoop hooping, I’m sending my kids out to join theirs and soak up some of their good nature and manners. There is a new family moving in across the street in a couple of weeks. I’m sort of hoping for a pack of underachievers.