Stranger Danger

Monday, September 7, 2015

Driving for ice cream tonight, we saw a little boy on his bike, alone, flying down our road. Paul braked, not because of the kid on the bike, but because of the man lurking about 40 feet behind him, in trees, sometimes breaking into a sprint to catch up to the kid. We have shady things going on down our street all the time (thanks to one known 'drug house', ugh) so unfortunately and fortunately, we are always on the lookout for weirdos and seeing things we wish we could unsee. This little scenario unfolding before our eyes was a tad alarming.

Paul's gut was telling him to turn around and see where the kid was going, so we did. We passed the house of a young family that had just moved in a few months ago, and we noticed his purple bike parked in the driveway. So, the kid was safe... a good sign. However, we also saw the guy, still walking toward our neighbor's house, but lingering a little too close to the shadows and slowing down to keep a safe distance. We kept driving so we passed the guy, and I got a good look at him, although he avoided looking at us. I didn't recognize him, so we flipped around again and Paul decided to stop in at the neighbor's house to talk to the parents and just let them know what we saw. We didn't want them to have no idea, and for the kid to get back on his bike and head out with the guy still lurking.

As we pulled into the driveway, Paul got out to go to the door and I looked back and over at the edge of the property, by the road. I saw he man again, but when he saw our car in the driveway, he stopped and spun around, walking away the other direction. My heart sunk.

After a few moments of confusion, and slight panic, our sweet neighbors and Paul discovered that they actually DID know the guy. It was Bike Boy's dad. He noticed us outside talking to our neighbors, so he walked to the door to join us.

"I'm sorry, man," Paul started to apologize to him. "I saw you following this kid and I just got concerned."

The guy smiled in embarrassment and confessed: "I've never let my boy ride his bike alone. So, I agreed... but I have been following him from a safe distance to be sure he watches for cars, doesn't go where he's not supposed to, and is extra careful when crossing the street." I immediately teared up.

In that moment, I was especially grateful for a few things: Bike Boy was doubly protected, today. First and most important, by a doting dad who wanted his son to learn independence but didn't want to send him off into this big, crazy world alone yet. And second, he was protected by nosy neighbors (err, sorry) who watch too much Law & Order. I was grateful for our neighbors - the family who's house Bike Boy was driving to - because instead of being annoyed or frustrated that we inserted ourselves into their business, they were beyond happy to know that there are extra sets of eyes all the way down 88th Ave. Between us all, there are 6 kids... you can never be too safe, and we're not meant to go about life alone. Everyone was happy and relieved and it was a great bonding moment for our street. Haha

It was a nice reminder tonight about the power of community. Get to know your neighbors, and keep an eye on each other.

Happy Labor Day!

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