Thursday, December 4, 2008

Who Are The People In Your Neighborhood?

Some school mornings, I walk LittleMan to kindergarten. Other days it is My Mukor who walks him, but today it was me. Usually, when it is my turn, [using a deep weatherman voice] there is a high probability of LittleMan not making it on time! [end voice]

I seem to have a hard time exercising, showering, getting LittleMan to dress appropriately, getting breakfast ready, getting children to eat breakfast, brushing children's teeth, brushing LittleMan's hair, getting self dressed, getting hair blow-dried, and making LittleMan's school lunch all in a 2 hour time frame. Almost every time I have to take him to school, one of these steps is skipped or done half-heartedly otherwise we are late. Who knows how many teeth are actually brushed when I have LittleMan do it himself? LittleMan hates cheese and all they are serving at school for lunch is grilled cheese and pizza, but oh well! Here is a dollar for the hot lunch I'm going to act like I know nothing about.

He's 6 - he'll get over it. I probably won't, but he will.

This morning, as the gates were closing at the school just as we dashed through them, I was congratulating myself on getting LittleMan to school on time today. (Note: My hair was wet, and LittleMan didn't have a sacked lunch.) I was walking home from LittleMan's school a little later than usual, when I noticed one of our neighbors leaving his home for his routine walk.

Most of the time, I miss running into this particular neighbor since I usually get back to my home a lot sooner than today, but I was waylaid by several parents wanting to compare notes on the parent-teacher conferences. Whatever - the point is I realized, as I was getting ready to pass him that I was a little anxious about him. You see, he looks like a cross-between Billy Bob Thorton from Sling Blade and a lumberjack.

When we first moved into this home about 4 years ago, I was walking around the neighborhood with BoopaLoop in a stroller and LittleMan greeted this neighbor by saying, "HI!". The man didn't seem to hear him, so LittleMan said it again much louder, and the man's step hitched, but he continued by us without looking at us. At the time, I was both annoyed and relieved - his... affect made my mommy's radar go off.

Now, why is that? Because he is possibly an introvert? Because he is possibly developmentally disabled? What has this man done to warrant my fear and mistrust? But, then I was thinking of how stupid I would look if it turned out that this man was violent, and I tempted fate by walking near him with small children. Wouldn't most of society say, "Well, she should have known better to pass a man looking like that!"

Now, back to this morning.

So here I was alone, in the light of morning, in a quiet neighborhood, when my neighbor realized that I was walking a faster pace than he was, I guess, since he stopped and turned to let me pass him by. Trying to ignore my fear, I maintained my pace and smiled at him. He smiled back and said, "Hey ya." He was very calm, his eyes were kind, and he was being a gentleman.

Shame on me.

Don't get me wrong - I fully intend to teach my children that you teach people how you want to be treated, so dress accordingly (please don't get me started about how the youth are dressed like prisoner-escapees). But, this man had done nothing but try to appear harmless, and I judged him for that. He was wearing a clean, plaid shirt and clean, brown, corduroy pants. He hadn't shaved in forever, but it looked brushed. Why wouldn't it be?

I'm not really certain what lesson I've learned from this. Yes, a mother's instinct is critical. Yes, you should keep your children out of harm's way.

But perhaps I need to use a little wisdom before condemning someone to the chainsaw massacre hive.


Mama DB said...

is this the guy with the super long dreds? 'Cause he looked a bit scary but was quite cordial when he passed as we were arriving for a visit one day.

Trust your mommy radar though. It's usually dead on.

All Things BD said...

That reminds me of the guy who used to walk in our neighborhood here, and all the moms were up in arms about him, he might be a stalker or a molester and did you hear about the guy who tried to abduct the girl near here and aaaarrrggghhh! Then, the last email that stopped the madness? He was somebody's husband who liked to go for walks every day.

But I do agree, you have to use your mommy radar.

Michele said...

You have a couple things going here. First the mommy radar...stick with your gut instinct. Teach your children to be respectful, but wary. I think you've had enough confirmation of that. Second, do the lunch thing for LittleMan the night before, along with laying out the clothes he will wear. And let him know there is no changing his mind at the last minute, and tell him why. That won't always work, (how many times have I changed my mind on what to wear at THE last minute?!) but act like it is set in stone. Or set your alarm earlier...HA!

Tabitha Blue said...

I think you should always trust the mommy radar. You can still be friendly without being to trusting.

gingela5 said...

You should use your mom-dar but it's kind of a thing where you want to give someone the benefit of the doubt. It's a tough thing to not be judgy but then protect your children!

Tiffany T said...

I love that my commenters are so full of wisdom and support! Thank you, ladies, for your encouraging words. I really appreciate it.

Oh, and Mama DB, I have no idea which guy you are talking about, so now I'm paranoid over someone I haven't seen yet *wink*.

DJ said...

When I got to the part about how he looks like Billy Bob in Sling Blade, I was like Ahhhh! Run away! That movie always freaks me out. :)
Anyway, then I was like, well you shouldn't judge people either, so I guess we should just try to be wary without prejudging too much.