Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Decisions we never want to make

Today the Girl asked me if she could go to visit her friend S and sleep over on Friday night. I didn't even hesitate for a second. I said "no." She has slept over this friend's house many many times in the past few years. I know the parents, I like the girl and her family, I think that the Girl would have a great time there, but I said no. Why?

Because of the violence in the city. Boston has had a very bad rash of shootings, stabbings, assaults, and way too many murders so far this year. It has become a war zone in certain neighborhoods, with innocent kids being killed at parties, watching TV, and sitting out on their stoop. It's become so dangerous that media hog Curtis Sliwa and his band of red-beret gestapo called the Guardian Angels have blessed the city with their presense by walking our streets. Aren't we lucky?

The Girl's friend lives in a neighborhood in the city that has been wracked with crime. It seems like every time you pick up a newspaper or listen to the local news, there's been another violent crime in this neighborhood. S has to deal with the crime on a daily basis. I understand that and certainly empathize. Her parents are hard working folks who bought a home where they could afford to live. A nice home, btw. They've lived in that neighborhood for many years, and have deep roots in their community. I don't know how they are even coping with what's happening in the streets right now, but I'm sure they're scared and angry, just like most of the citizens of the city.

But my Girl isn't street smart. She wouldn't know what to do in any dangerous situation. If she heard gunshots, she'd be the kid who would want to look out the window to see what was happening. That's why I said no.

I feel like a racist. Like this should be a 'teachable moment' that would help the Girl to grow up in an increasingly violent world. But the fact is, I love my child and I want to keep her safe. I've never had a moment's worry about her visiting her friend before. I loved that she got to know a neighborhood so lively but different than her own. I like that she knows this part of the city, the shops, the food, the people.

However, right now this isn't a safe place for anyone, never mind my Girl. Does this make me a bad mommy? I don't really know. My job is to protect my children and keep them safe. If that means keeping the Girl from a dangerous part of the city, well then I'm doing my job well. But the message. The message makes my stomach churn. The priviledged white girl message. I hate that message. I want to ensure that my children feel real equality. My kids have friends of every color, every religion, every culture. We practice real diversity in our family. And now I feel like I've drawn a line in the sand with my lily-white daughter on one side, and the inner city children of color on the other side. Interestingly, the mother of the other girl invited wouldn't allow her Guatamalan child to go, either. But that doesn't alleviate my guilt one bit.

It's these parenting moments that get me. The ones where you have to challange your core beliefs. The ones that you will wonder about for a very long time. Did I do the right thing? Am I acting like a racist jerk?

I honestly don't know.

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Blogger kitten said...

Could you perhaps let her know why and invite the girls to spend the night at your place? I'm sure the parents of this little girl will understand your reluctance, I don't have kids but I certainly understand - especially if the GIRL is a bit naive.

17/4/07 3:00 AM  
Blogger AnotherMomCreation said...

Gosh I don't know what to say about this. I live in Mass too, and I would do the same thing as you. I think you are justified in saying no. And I don't think that makes you a racist. But I can see why you are feeling the way you are. But you didn't tell your daughter that she can't go to the Black Girls house, or the Hispanic kids house.... No you said she cannot go to a neighborhood riddled with so much crime right now.

A racist? No, not one bit.... I loving caring mother? Absolutely.

17/4/07 10:43 AM  

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