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It was the end of the school holidays, and the return to school after Christmas was looming. The children had had two weeks at home. The general sense of routine was lost for the boys, with late nights and relaxing days watching YouTube while playing their Switch. I was eager for routine to make a reappearance through school. As we headed into the weekend before the start of school, Josh had a cough and then a fever, and it became clear this would not be the week I had envisioned.

By Monday morning the boys appeared more lethargic than usual, I nonetheless took the opportunity to usher them toward the bus after a two-week Christmas hiatus. By early afternoon, the phone rang. It was the school officetwo of the boys were not feeling well, and we were asked to come and collect them.

Isaiah, who is nine, was quick to say, “Mom, I don’t think I can go skating today.” And at that stage, I knew he was unwell. Isaiah does not miss an opportunity to argue with me or to engage in sports. It was a deafening cry to hear he was too ill to go skating. I thought nothing more about it and started on the dinner routine; suddenly, there was a buzz on my phone. I looked over, and it was one of the mothers whose daughters attended skating with Isaiah. “Hey, you aren’t here. Is everything okay?”

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I looked at the time and skating had started 10 minutes earlier. Although I had no intention of taking the boys, considering they had been unwell, I had become lost in a world of sick children and dinner. It was remarkable to me that within 10 minutes of not attending, my children’s absences were noted. I responded, ‘Thanks for asking; we won’t be coming tonight; the kids are sick.”

Within seconds, the reply came back, “Do you need anything? I can grab some over-the-counter medicine and swing by on my way home.” Another message filtered in soon after that, this was another mom whose two daughters skate with the boys, “Hey, the boys, aren’t at skating this evening, is everything okay?”

Wow, this was amazing I thought to myself. For most of my life, I have lived in cities or lackluster communities; for the first time, I was living in a genuine communityone that cared. It mattered that my children weren’t skating. It mattered that the boys were home unwell. There were offers for assistance, none of which were needed, but they were there all the same.

It never dawned on me when we moved to this rural municipality five years ago that we were moving into and becoming a part of an extended community, none of whom were blood relatives, but so many of whom have become family. This is a municipality where we have conversations with one another in the grocery store, not a simple passing “hello” without looking up, but actual questions of concern and sincerity.

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This is an area where we look out for each other and our childrenwe check in. If we haven’t seen someone for a few days, the first one out with the snowblower in the morning blows their own driveway and the remainder of driveways on the street. We volunteer at activities and carpool. We live in one of those places where parents cheer for each other’s children even when they are on the opposing team.

While I appreciate not every town or city is like this, be that change, to check on your neighbors, to cheer on the other children. There is little doubt that doing our part in a community that cares is better for each of us. My children will know they have been raised by an entire village that has supported them and rooted for them, each and every step of the way.

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Andrea Clarke

Andrea Clarkemother of three boys, lawyer, Deputy Mayor of Kincardine—resides in a rural municipality where she lives with her husband and three boys. When Andrea is not running her practice or doing work as Deputy Mayor, she enjoys watching her children play sports and writing.

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