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Single Mom Slice of Life: Is That MY KID On The News?!

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Single Mom Slice of Life:
Is That MY KID On The News?!

 

I personally am not a fan of the nightly (or early morning) news. Really, the only time I watch it is when I’ve fallen asleep with the TV on, and wake up to find the channel can’t be changed because George, my 110 pound dog is laying on top of the remote.

Saturday morning was one of those mornings, and in the time it took me to muscle George off of the bed – and the remote – there was a news report that stopped me cold. In downtown Phoenix, two teenagers were suspected of a break-in, robbery, and assault. The surveillance video was crap – blurry, grainy, and from an odd angle.

But even blurry, grainy, and from an odd angle, one of the “teenage boys, believed to be Hispanic, wearing blue or black hoodies and walking along…”, looked an awful lot like my 19 year old part white, part black, part Puerto Rican teenage boy who wears dark blue hoodies and walks along similar parts of town.

Now, he was home this weekend, not at school in the area where this robbery took place, but still… how many people would see this very same report, see him when he goes back to school in that general area and think about that overly generic description?

In hindsight, my kid is 6’1″ tall, and with his full beard looks older than his 19 years, but the helicopter mom in me panicked. In this day and age, people are smart, right? Gone are the days of people who just know they saw their neighbors on America’s Most Wanted, right? But then again, I myself am half black, half white – and have been considered everything from Hispanic to Italian… so I know that assumptions happen.

Read more: Live, Love, Blend: In Search of the Perfect Mother

There is a scene in Men in Black where Tommy Lee Jones explains to Will Smith that, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

You know what I know today? A mom’s worry never fades. It changes, it mutates, but it never goes away. In fact, we find new worries – bigger worries. My worries of yesteryear were that they looked both ways before crossing the street when walking home from school, or that they remembered not to put metal in the microwave.

In a single heartbeat, I realized a parenting nightmare: I grew up the same way I raised my kids – they don’t see color, they don’t see financial status, etc. – but how many other parents were teaching the same thing? I no longer control where (one of) my children go, his friends, or every minute of his day. He is literally at the mercy of the world, the news reports, and the people who watch them.

Read more: Good Enough Mother: On Rape, Racism and Teachable Moments

For someone with severe control issues, this was a startling realization. My son is at the mercy of the world. He is about to face people who are “dumb, panicky dangerous animals”, not a single person.

I am aware that I cannot control every moment of every day, and at some point, I have to land my helicopter. But until then… I have to trust that what I’ve taught my boys about friend choices, safety, and decision making will be enough to keep them safe.

What about you? At what point did you realize that your ability to control your child’s world had ended? How did you deal with it?

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