Tonight I did something miraculous. I got through to my kid.
I just wish I felt better about it.
For the past year, Vader and I have been having shouting matches about his bike. I can be heard shouting one or more of the following items:
- Wear your helmet!
- Watch out for that moving car!
- Do not ride to close to that moving car!
- Do not try to race that moving car!
- Do not try to play chicken with your brother(s) on their bikes!
- Do not go past X point on the street…where I cannot see you!
And then, over the weekend, I added a new one to the list.
- Do not go up onto the driveways of neighbors we don’t know!
You see, at the end of the street, we had a new family/person/couple/who knows move into a rental house. And Vader, the friendly guy that he is, was attracted to the moving van like a magnet, where he proceeded to tell the neighbors everything about everything – his name, his brother’s names, his age, his school…
You get the picture.
And, because he is 7, he then wandered up onto the driveway to see what stuff they were pulling out of the truck.
Thankfully, I was not far behind and saw him disappear up the drive. And I quickly went up to the house, called him back and tried to introduce myself to the new folks. (They weren’t even there. It was the movers from the moving company that Vader was chatting up.)
So I asked him to come home and I reminded him about stranger-danger and the new rule. And that was that.
Tonight, when I went out to call Vader in for dinner, I was able to see him appear from that very same driveway.
And I freaked out.
And he freaked out.
“I like to ride up the driveway. It has a hill and it is cool.” (“Hill” is an exaggeration to say the least.) “The people are nice too.”
So, after I collected myself, I asked him to sit down with me and we logged onto the internet. And then, I had one of my more impactful and successful, albeit sad, parenting moments.
We logged onto Family Watch Dog, one of the national registries where you can learn about violent and non-violent offenders, sexual predators and other really bad people who live in your neighborhood. And I explained to my oldest son about people who are mean to other people, who hurt or touch kiddos in not nice ways.
I explained that our new neighbors are probably very nice, but until I know for sure… until I have a chance to meet them, it is NOT okay to be on their driveway or talking to them without mom and/or dad knowing first.
And he got it.
And there were no more tears shed or shouting or freaking out.
I am only sad that this epiphany had to happen in the first place, and that the world is not safer for little guys to be friendly and to ride their bikes without fear.