Valley Voices

Ding dong! Don’t freak out, it’s just the doorbell

Ringing a friend’s doorbell to ask if they can play once was a true pleasure of childhood, writes Jill Simonian. Now most kids play by appointment or arrange it by phone.
Ringing a friend’s doorbell to ask if they can play once was a true pleasure of childhood, writes Jill Simonian. Now most kids play by appointment or arrange it by phone. Fresno Bee Staff Photo

Now that my daughters are back in school (yikes!) I’ve been reflecting on this summer. We had our share of fast fun – the beach, a few trips to Fresno, time at the local pool and meet-ups with friends. But, I have one big regret: I wish we’d rung more doorbells.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my upbringing and smiling about all the memories that stick out – many of them tend to involve doorbells.

Ding dong! The sound of the neighborhood kids at our doorstep, asking if my sister and I could play.

Ding dong! That boy from down the street I used to have a crush on.

Ding dong! Our cousins dropping by because they were driving down our street on their way to somewhere else.

All those doorbell dings provided a mixed bag of emotions – excitement (fun with a friend!), panic (oh my, I don’t have makeup on!) and joy (family connection). None of them were planned, none of them involved 14 texts to designate any details whatsoever.

Sure, those kinds of visits were sometimes inconvenient, but in those cases, we did what pretty everyone else did – hid and cursed, “This is the worst timing!” behind closed doors. (Makes me laugh... typical, right?)

I think about all those times now, and I feel sad. The thought of ringing someone’s doorbell to say “Hi!” on a whim seems so farfetched by most modern social standards. You can’t just ring someone’s doorbell! What if they’re not ready for you? Dropping by without notice is rude – what if they’re busy?

We’re all so “connected,” yet we’ve never been so truly disconnected from each other. What’s happened to all of us? We’ve let social media steal our social skills.

I had big plans to do more impromptu play times with my kids this summer – play times that started with me telling them, “Why don’t we go across the street, ring Griffin’s doorbell and see if he and his sisters want to play at our house this afternoon?” That never happened, and it’s my fault. Truth is, I felt awkward about ringing someone’s doorbell without prior notice.

On our last trip to my parents’ house, my daughters, mom and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood. As we approached my cousin’s house, I said, “Let’s ring the doorbell and see if anyone’s home.” My daughters looked at me sharply and seemed semi-horrified that I’d even suggest such an unplanned thing.

“She’s probably not home,” my mom said.

“Walk up to the door,” I told my girls. They took small, shy steps up the walkway and kept looking back at me, confused, acting like they didn’t really know how to do what I was telling them to do.

“Walk up and ring the doorbell,” I said again, annoyed at their tentativeness. My 6-year-old looked back at me one more time with a look of fear.

“Ring the doorbell!” I had no patience left.

They pushed the bell and stood there, nervous about what was about to come next. We waited. And then, the door opened and my Aunt Lorraine had the biggest smile on her face.

“Hi!!!” she screamed. “What a surprise! Come on in!”

My girls’ faces lit up. They giggled and looked at me with glee. It was like something magical happened. (It did.)

Just by ringing the doorbell.

Jill Simonian was born and raised in Fresno and graduated from Sanger High School. She is the creator of Her book for first-time moms, “The FAB Mom's Guide: How to Get Over the Bump & Bounce Back Fast After Baby'”is available now. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter @jillsimonian.