I often remind Xy that we don’t live in the ghetto. This is especially obvious when we can look out the window and see kids playing in the street. Black kids, white kids, Latino kids. Diversity. This is not a place “inhabited primarily by people of the same race, religion, or social background.” By definition, this is not the ghetto.
All the same we do have certain issues.
For example, our neighbors bought a puppy, a pit bull, which they named Money and which they let run wild in the street. He’s a cute dog, but I usually see him running around with no supervision whatsoever, and that bothers me. I just learned they’ve renamed the dog Killer.
Today, as I was examining the pomegranate tree in front of our house, Money/Killer ran up and started licking Persephone’s face before I even knew he was there. He was wearing a parka with a big gold skull on the back. It was a very sweet and harmless interaction, but who’s to say what will happen next time?
Also running wild in the street, often alongside Money/Killer, are those same kids I mentioned earlier. They may be of diverse races, but they have at least one thing in common: Their parents do not supervise them closely.
I recently observed some girls running around barefoot. Not a good idea in a neighborhood littered with debris, rusty nails and broken glass. Sure enough, they sliced their feet up, and who ended up providing first aid? Xy.
It’s fun to see the kids playing together, but I do worry about them. They play in the street and sometimes come perilously close to getting hit by cars. Recently they’ve taken to playing on Craig’s front porch. (Craig is our next door neighbor, who has for all practical purposes abandoned his house.) They’re climbing his trees and performing acrobatic tricks. Xy stopped them just before they turned Craig’s porch light into a piñata. And of course they’re playing with Money/Killer the pit bull.
Different people have different parenting styles. I can understand and celebrate that. I certainly would not let my daughter run wild in the street, but does that mean it’s wrong for others? The kids sometimes report on each others’ misdeeds to Xy or me. I responded yesterday, “I’m not your parent, so I’m not going to discipline you.” But that raises the question: What is my obligation here? Where does it begin and end?
Update: Shortly after I wrote this, the neighbors gave Money/Killer away. Not sure why — maybe they just realized living in a second story walk-up wasn’t good for a rambunctious dog, or maybe they decided he was too much work. Who knows? He was a cute animal but I was glad to see him go.