At night before I drift off to sleep, I think about the teenager who appeared at my door, and how I could have handled the situation better. You know, the old 20/20 hindsight.
My son was eight years old at the time. There was a knock at the door, and there stood a 13-year-old and he asked if my son could come out and play. “No, I don’t even know you!” Was my knee-jerk response. I don’t think I have to explain much here. My first instinct is to protect my son. I was a single mom myself.
“My name is John Doe* and I live in the apartments next door.” My son looked hopeful: an older kid wanted to hang out with him.
“Sorry, no, my son can’t come out.” I closed the door and patted myself on the back for being a good mom, and protecting my kid. That was Job One, after all.
Years later, I think of this kid. What if he was sincere? What if he had no one to hang out with because he was not “cool”? What if he had a bad home life, and he was lonely? Many of the kids who lived in those apartments came from broken homes.
I’m not saying I should have let me kid outside with him. But what if I had invited him in, asked him about himself, school, his parents. Maybe I could have gotten a better idea of who he really was and if he was really a threat.
My son is grown now, and thanks to my Helicopter Mom parenting style, safe. But I do think of John Doe from time to time. There’s nothing I can do to go back and change it. But for now, I pray for him, send him good thoughts and wish him well.
I hope that he has found someone nice to hang out with.