Saturday, November 26, 2011


We live in a society ruled by fear and it disgusts me.  I don't want my children growing-up afraid to walk down the street.  Tonight, at 6:00 p.m., I allowed my eight year old son to walk two blocks to Wendy's, to get himself a frosty and fries, and return to my office.  I asked him if he wanted me to walk a block behind him, so he would feel safe but still be independent.  He said he wanted to go alone, he had my phone and knows the way.

He walked there with no incident.  He called me on the way to say he was fine.  But once he got in the Wendy's the patrons freaked out that he was in there by himself and got a nearby police officer involved who detained him and summoned me to pick him up where the officer proceeded to berate me in front of the restaurant and loudly advise me he would be reporting me to DHS.

Here's the problem I have.  If the officer was so concerned for his safety and well-being, why didn't he escort my son the two blocks back to the office and talk to me there.  That's not what he was concerned with.  He was concerned with making the public feel that he'd admonished me properly.  He didn't care that my son ended-up in tears when he wasn't scared until he was detained by the police officer.  When I came in he made a point of very loudly stating that he could have been raped or killed in the two block walk to Wendy's.  

Well I for one do not feel safe that our police department feels that in two blocks, at 6:00 p.m., a child could be raped or killed just by walking two blocks down the street.  Perhaps if he spent time detaining criminals instead of eight year old children, the city would be a safer place.

If our society, instead of being horrified that a child is walking alone, just paid a little extra attention so that child felt safe, our society in general would be a safer and happier place.  I do not feel bad or stupid or negligent for allowing Abacus the chance to be independent.  I refuse to believe that at any given moment a horrible thing is going to happen.  I understand that it can, but I believe the more we are afraid the less we truly live.  I don't want to teach my children to live in fear and not believe in themselves.

Abacus is now scared of getting in trouble with the police and annoyed that people don't mind their own business. He said that if people didn't go up to the officer, the officer would've never even noticed him and he would've been back at the office without incident.  But he fully believes in his ability to walk down the street by himself in a reasonable neighborhood at a reasonable time of day.

Bad things are going to happen to us no matter how much we try to protect ourselves from them.  The best thing we can do for our children is increase their belief in themselves and their ability to handle difficult situations.  Allowing small amounts of independence at a time when they desire it is a fantastic way to do that.

The fact of the matter is I work really late.  I don't always have money for the bus or the patience to stand on a corner 30 minutes waiting for one.  So I walk.  Alone.  All the time.  At all hours of the night.  The chances of something happening to ME are far greater than the chances of something happening to him.  But I can't do anything to remedy that situation at this point in my life.  So what if something happens to me, and all my son knows is that he's only safe if I'm around?  I don't even want to think about that.

My son needs to believe in himself.  Right now, at this point in his life, he DOES.  He believes in his abilities because I have always stood behind him and allowed him the independence to grow into that belief.  His little sister is very timid.  I haven't made her feel ashamed of it or that she has to try to change it.  That will come naturally.  But given that fact, it is even more important that her brother believe in himself.  If something happens to me, she will need him to know what he is capable of.  And my son is capable of doing anything he believes he can do.

If a child is taught their entire life they are only safe with a grown-up, then whatever grown-up they are with has power over that child whether they are good or bad.  If a child is taught their entire life they are safe when they feel safe, and if they don't, they need to get somewhere or around someone with whom they do feel safe, that child will always carry their own power.  In a situation where they are abducted they will not be afraid to run away, to cross the street, to get somewhere safe, around people who are safe.

I refuse to believe that I acted negligently or harmfully.  I did not force him to do something alone out of laziness or not caring.  It was a lot of work to not follow after, but I wanted to know I could trust him and I could trust society at large.  I'm glad people pay attention.  I wonder, if a bad person had tried to approach him, would those people have said anything then?  Or just watched and shook their heads at my negligence.

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