Monday, April 23, 2007

Moving forward about 25 years.....

My son read my post re 1951 and reminded me of a time when I wouldn't let him ride his bicycle on the street with his friends--he had to ride through the yards. He remembers his parents said there were people who might want to hurt him.

Since we moved houses a year or two later and he started riding his bike to school, I think I know the specific time he referred to, and his recollection makes me feel rather proud. I think we handled it pretty well, considering.

At that time, we lived in a small community where almost every other woman on the block stayed home with the kids. I worked. I was a newspaper reporter married to a D.A.'s investigator, and in our household there was a knowledge of things going on that my neighbors didn't know.

Once a week or so, the women on the block would bring out our ice tea or sodas and we would sit on the side of the bar ditch and visit for a half hour or an hour. I enjoyed that so much. But I listened as they talked about how safe the neighborhood was and they didn't even lock their doors. This conversation came along about the time I was experiencing something entirely different.

The D.A.'s investigator was working a record-breaking rape case, which may also have involved murder--don't remember. He was taking on one of Texas' most notorious motorcycle gangs, known for their brutality and viciousness. I may be wrong, but I think at the time he was working on this case, no one else in the state had made a case stick. The gang members had gotten away with literally, murder. Or very close. And they were mad as hornets that someone was coming after them so effectively. So they did what scum always do, and they threatened his family. What caught his attention was that they seemed to know he had a wife and son.

So, safety strategy time again.

We decided our son could still cut across the yards to his best friend's house. I would call before he set out. He had to call when he arrived. His best friend's mother was informed he couldn't go with her sons over to the neighbors unless an adult was watching. Sheesh, she said. You sure are getting strict. Yup, I said, but them's the rules. And the rule about riding bikes. And I think I restricted him from playing in the front yard at all. Had to be in the back yard.
It was still a fairly free, smalltown atmosphere. The neighbors felt sorry for my son's new restrictions, but being good Texas neighbors, they didn't interfere or fail to follow the restrictions we set when he was at their homes, so far as I know. Fortunately, being a small neighborhood where we knew each other, everyone would notice strangers. I asked frequently and casually. No strangers had been noted.

And I was thoroughly briefed on the use of his semi-automatic rifle in the coat closet. I paid very close attention. This was before 911 systems were established, we were in a rural neighborhood with help minutes away at best. He figured if the gang did come after us, they would probably come in a group.

Of course, they never came. The miscreant was convicted. There was a lot of snarling and growling by the scum, but they dwindled and went away. And we slowly relaxed our rules.

I'm not sure we ever mentioned this outside the two of us to anyone. I remember being concerned, and angry, but not too frightened. I knew the time to be scared would be if a few motorcycles roared up to the house. Let's face it--it wasn't too likely, but we had to deal with the possibility.

I'm glad we said no more to our son. I think too many people say too much to their kids, even day to day. Of course the world has dangers. It doesn't mean we need to rear our children to be fearful, or to be afraid to act when peril threatens. They DO need to know how to follow rules which involves developing self discipline.

FYI, Son, I think you are doing a great job with your daughters.

1 comment:

Matt G said...

Aw. Well thanks.