Monday, July 25, 2011

Are NYC children all cynical?

I keep going back to wanting my child to be a child and being a New Yorker and knowing my child needs to be at times cynical and at all times aware of her surroundings.
When my child was almost a year old, my mother was taken aback at how my husband and I scope out the playgrounds and parks and keep our eyes for anything we deem suspicious.
"Why do you keep looking at that old man?"
"He's by himself, in a playground with a newspaper sitting by a bush."
"Why would he sit in a playground without any children."
"He's just a grandpa."
"You can't assume."
Later that day she picked up a 2 year old trying to climb the jungle gym.  The child was struggling but did not ask for help.  We did not know the child.
"MIL, we don't pick up a stranger's kid without making sure it's ok with the parent.   We only pick them up if they are hurt and look for parents/caregivers asap."
"But she needed help."
"She didn't ask for help and you don't know if her parent wants her to be up this high.  You have to be mindful that the parent might have told the child she could not climb up."
"You are being too cautious."
"No, I'm being a parent."
I know times are different.  I know back in the days my neighbors watched us and looked out for each other.  If we saw a kid doing something wrong, we told them so.  We still do to an extent but we also know nowadays, there are just too many "you don't knows".
Reading about the horrific incident in Brooklyn with the boy who wanted to walk to the bus stop, I'm reminded of the need to be vigiliant.  I know New Yorkers can be too cynical.  I know we can be too guarded but can you blame us?  The city is a huge melting pot which is a great but also comes with the need to be extra careful.
Now I don't want my child to be constantly on alert but I do want her to be mindful.  I'm hoping my husband has some ideas on this because this one is a doozy for a parent.