Precisely when the phone call came, it’s been so long ago, I couldn’t honestly say. School hadn’t been in session long, and my oldest son was around 10 years old at the time.
There was a woman’s voice on the line; she identified herself only as a neighbor. She knew we had just moved to town. She knew I had a son. She also knew the name of my son’s new best friend–and his family’s secret.
Her voice was filled with concern, as she instructed me to not allow my son to play at this boy’s house, to never allow him to spend the night, and to only allow them to play together in our home. No explanations were given, just this firm admonition, and then she hung up.
I didn’t question her, or ask for details. The nature of the call made it clear this was not something she wanted to do, nor did she want to step outside of her bounds. Yet she was clearly concerned for my son.
When I talked to my boy about the situation, I too had to be careful what I said. I informed him of the new rules. There was nothing in his life for me to draw on to explain why. I didn’t want to give him information that was beyond his comprehension, but I had to give him what he needed to be safe.
He protested the unfairness of it all. He was sure I was making unfair judgments of his new friend; he probably chalked it up to another tactic to make his life hard.
Nonetheless, my rules stood and he complied. Life went on and new friendships were forged as the school year went on. As it always does, time has given us both a different perspective.
Few of us can fathom the depravity of those that would destroy a child’s life for their personal gratification. However, they are among us, and they are looking for innocent prey. Just in case you don’t have the watchful eyes of a concerned neighbor to help you, here are my top five tips– from one parent to another, in keeping your children safe.