We learned to drive a car long before we could reach the pedels, as mom would sit us on her lap and let us steer. (And because my mom had a tendency to lock her keys in the car, we all knew how to Jimmy the door.)
And long before cell phones, we all knew how to make a collect phone call, a skill my mother probably regretted teaching when on summer vacation with our father, we called her everyday from a pay phone at Yellowstone National Park. (To our credit, during the time when the operator allowed the caller to announce whom was speaking, we would race a message to mom then she would deny the charges! Himommissyouloveyou!)
Besides the fact that there are no longer payphones to use, or that cell phones have made calling collect a thing of the past, I no longer live at the end of a dirt road in rural eastern Washington State. I live in Chicago.
But the type of security that adults think about and the type of things that make children feel secure, are totally different things. Or so I thought until I found this story.
Malik is a 7th grader living in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, and all he wanted for Christmas this last year was to be safe. It just breaks my heart.
“I barely can’t even go outside anymore, can’t ride my bike, can’t play ball, can’t go play with my cousins, because you have to watch your back every 30 seconds,” Malik says.
There is very little I can do or Malik's parents can do to improve crime in Chicago. But what can I do? How can I help my child feel safe in a city where there were 408 reported homicides in 2014.
The National Center for PTSD say the best thing for children who have witnessed community violence is...a caring adult.
And that is something my daughter will always have. I will listen to her. I will spend time with her. And she will have a network of other caring adults she can talk with should something happen to me.
And really, when I think back to my mom teaching me how to make a collect call, that is what she was doing. She was always available to talk. She was always there to listen.
So even if my daughter doesn't witness community violence (nd I hope it is a very long time before she has to worry about such things) I know I'm earning her trust. When she gets older and we have the struggles that will come from her wanting independence and separation from her parents, I hope she knows she'll always be able to call me and ask for help or share sad news.
Authored by A Swift Doula