One of the grand challenges of parenting is letting go. As your children sprout, it’s important to let them expand their boundaries, working toward that magical day when they are able to get the fuck out of your basement live independently, without fear or insecurity, in an increasingly complex and magical world.
By the time The Boy was around 10 years old, i had gradually increased his exploration range – first letting him ride his bike in our quiet neighborhood, but later allowing him room to roam further afield, scooting up to the strip malls about a quarter mile down the main drag. This required him to safely traverse a busy four-lane road.
One lazy Saturday afternoon, he had negotiated an expedition to the strip mall, which included a grocery store, comic book store, several fast food restaurants among other things*. He’d been gone perhaps a half hour, when i got a call…
The Boy: Hey, there are some new Magic cards at the comic book store – can I get an advance on my allowance?
daisyfae: Sure, but you realize that leaves you short next week if anything comes up?
The Boy: Whatever. Would you be willing to bring it up to me? I’m in front of the grocery store.
daisyfae: OK. Not doing much else at the moment**.
Hopped in the car – which at the time was my juicy-sweet little sports car – 225 bhp of asphalt-munching sex-on-wheels. Spotted him, pulled up to the curb, and opened the passenger side door to hand him the cash. Being chock-full of mother hormones, i also used the opportunity to nag remind him of the need to be careful crossing the streets, negotiating parking lots and the like.
He listened for a minute or two. The eyes started rolling. i kept on with the parental nudge. Having had enough of my yammering, he deployed a rather brilliant tactic…
The Boy: [loudly] Stranger! Bad Touch! I DON’T KNOW YOU!
* We have a theory that EVERY strip mall in the state has at least TWO of the following THREE establishments: Nail Salon, Tanning Salon, “RipOff” Payday Lender. Have yet to find an exception to this… Most have all three…
** Besides, it gave me a chance to check up on him, follow him to see where he crossed, etc. To quote Mr. Reagan: “trust, but verify”.