The doorbell rang and I made my way downstairs to find my little one opening the door to a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I took over from there, politely saying we weren’t interested and pointing to the fancy ‘no solicitors’ sign I had painted and posted above our mailbox.
The real concern for me was that my son had just thrown the front door wide open to strangers. He’s not used to strangers on our quiet little street. He’s used to neighborhood kids or adults stopping by.
A few weeks ago one of my favorite people was almost the victim of a carjacking in town, complete with guns, coming home from dinner with her husband and friends. Thankfully her husband had the presence of mind to instruct her friend on some crafty driving maneuvers and they were able to escape.
All of this comes on the heels of the news of ridiculous number of car break-ins and thefts as well as homes break-ins.
One of the things I love about our town is even though we are mere minutes from New York City, we live in a bucolic little enclave where kids can ride their bikes around their neighborhoods, and we know the librarians and town police officers by name. It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security here.
I need to brush off my copy of “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin De Becker and spend some time this summer training my kids to be aware of their surroundings and how to keep themselves safe. It is the best book I have read on the subject of children’s safety.
De Becker explains in a clear and concise way to teach kids to honor their intuition, as well as how to empower kids to say no when placed in a situation that’s uncomfortable. For example De Becker says we give our children mixed messages when we say don’t talk to strangers and yet chide them when they won’t say hello to someone they don’t know when they are with us. “Say hello to the nice lady!”
He says we are the only animals that choose to ignore our intuition in fear of being rude.
“Well, it looks like a nice lion,” we say, while other animals say, “It’s a lion. RUN.”
The idea that my children would be so trusting as to just throw the front door open to anyone, is terrifying. My friend narrowly escaping armed men is terrifying. While I’m not suggesting that the recent break-ins are a sign we’re on a downhill slide into an area riddled with crime, I am suggesting it’s an opportunity to remind myself that my children need a refresher course on staying safe.