Clara has successfully infiltrated the gang of neighbor kids that ride their bikes in the cul-de-sac. After weeks of standing off to the side as they ride ominously in circles whooping and cackling and kicking cans at each other, she impressed them enough with her own bike riding skills and won passage into their fold. Now, every afternoon, she hops on her Disney princess bike and pumps her way into the breeze of freedom with her little sister peddling to keep tight formation on a pink tricycle. And the two of them join the street party in the cul-de-sac.

Now, this gang is rather large. There are only about five houses on the street with the cul-de-sac, but each house has four, sometimes five children living in each one, all of which are roughly Clara’s age or older. So, it is difficult and intimidating for Clara to keep track of all of their names. One is named Isaac, she remembers that. Another is named Sarah. But that is as far as she has gotten.

So, when she tries to tell me stories about their adventures she ends up referring to them by the house they live in. “The blue boys wrecked their bikes into each other today!” She will say. Or, “The green girl let me and Lydia drive her motor jeep until we tipped it over going around a corner too fast.”

The blue boys. The green girl. She is quite proud of her clever method of identifying her new friends, she was telling me just this afternoon, but she knows she is in dangerous waters with these young kids. She feels like they are out of her league. Older than she deserves to be playing with. A bit rougher than she is used to. She hasn’t ever been allowed this deep into their club before and she doesn’t want to do anything that will jeopardize her position as the cool new kid.

“It’s funny you would mentioned that,” I said calmly and I placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “Because I really think you should maybe find out your friend’s real names and stop calling them by the color of their houses. They might be offended if they ever hear you calling them Green Girl, you know? Also… oh I don’t know, the Hispanic family that lives in the brown house. How about we stop calling them the Brown Girls and the Brown Boys, huh? Can we do that maybe? Good,” I tousled her hair, “Good. Just, let’s stop doing that now…”