Stopping Traffic by Robin Gorman Newman
My son has long been a Rescue Hero in the making. That’s when he’s not busy being a CSI Investigator, SWAT Team member, Policeman, Fireman, EMS worker, Spy, Power Ranger, etc., etc.
He has an impressive collection of baseball caps emblazoned with a wide array of motifs fitting these various bills. He has costumes replete with pants, vests and accessories that further feed the frenzy. On top of that, he has Nerf guns, play handcuffs, flashlights, etc.
Add to all that a widely vivid imagination and a deep desire to do good/help people, and you never know what can result.
I witnessed it first hand at an impromptu playdate last week. A friend he sits with on the bus popped over after school to give him something, and he wound up staying for two hours. Thankfully, the rain had finally subsided, and they opted to play outdoors.
They rode bikes up and down the street, but when the paraphenalia and role play started to break out, things took a more complex turn. I was watching them for some time, and then retreated to my office where I could see them out the window. But, I learned that I can’t turn my back for 5 seconds.
The phone rang, and it was my next door neighbor Jill, who we’re friendly with. She asked, “Do you know that Seth and his friend are stopping traffic?” I was stunned…embarassed (for not knowing)…thanked her for calling and bolted out the door.
I should have taken a picture of what I saw. Seth was on one side of the street in front of the house, and his playmate in crime was on the other side across the street, and they had strung a piece of plastic rope across the road so cars had to stop. They also put out plastic cones that Seth likes to play with when he’s creating a “construction zone.” Very authoritatively, they proclaimed they were stopping cars as they endeavored to drive down the block, to make sure they were wearing seatbelts. They took huge pride in pointing out the Fed Ex truck they had also stopped, and how the driver thanked them for so dilligently trying to protect people.
I ordered them off the street and to gather their gear from the road and tried to explain how, while they meant well, there are people in this world who might not embrace their efforts. What if they ran into someone like that? Seth then showed me a hammer (real one) he had taken from our garage, and how he was prepared to use it in self defense if needed. Part of me was glad he had thought of that, but I certainly didn’t want him engaging in a fight.
He and his friend both complained how I ruined their fun. And, I suppose you could say I did. But, what’s a mother to do?! I need to somehow help channel his desire to do good and play security into a safer mode of expression. What, at the moment, I don’t know.
What also concerns me is that I now feel I can’t let him out of my sight for even a brief period, even in front of the house. That’s all it takes for something to happen, and even in the safest of neighborhoods, bad things can result.
Next time, my son goes to play outside, perhaps I’ll join his SWAT team or whatever it is at the moment. I’m sure he’d welcome the additional manpower, and I’d have an up close ‘n personal look (and control) over the situation. Stopping traffic is not a game I’d recommend.