Leave Me Alone
My son wants me to leave him alone, in various places. He's six.
"Just go home. I'll meet you there, " he tells me, several blocks from our house.
"Just leave me here!" he says, at the playground by the parking lot where tourists sit in their cars and vape and do God knows what else. Where old men sit on benches and watch.
Nope. Not leaving.
The mall? No way! You're six.
I wrestle with my explanations to him.
When I was little, my mom told it like it was. "A bad guy might come and kidnap you."
"If a stranger offers you candy, or asks you to come with him to see a puppy, say no and run away!" These statements were nightmare fuel. I'm pretty sure that my (very grown-up) brother is still afraid he’ll find himself on the victim end one of those scenarios, to this day.
I try and explain it to Fox in gentler ways.
"If you had an accident, and got hurt, I'd have no way of knowing and couldn’t help you." Maybe that's even scarier than bad guys with imaginary puppies?
Many people love to drop their kids off someplace, and leave. I am not one of those people.
I might love it if I were dropping him off in a really warm, loving and secure environment.
I wouldn't worry if there weren't a dozen cabs pulling up outside the front doors every hour.
I wouldn't worry if teachers and caregivers greeted my son - or me - or anyone at the door.
If they safely ushered children inside.
If they kept the doors locked and had a buzzer system.
If there wasn't always one random guy smoking outside the entrance, waiting to get into the adjacent addiction treatment centre.
Even my son knows this particular place is sketchy, and doesn't ask me to leave him alone here.
So, I wait nearby. There is a subtle artistry in waiting for a child to do things. I wait while he plays with other kids, or alone. I wait while he throws sticks into the deep, raging river. I wait while he attends his strip mall art classes.
If he doesn't want me to do these things with him, then waiting for him is the next best thing.
I'll always be waiting.
What's creepier than that?