The Hood, Suburbs, Good Kids, Bad Kids and Parenting

I grew up at 17385 Pinehurst on Detroit’s west-side in the 80s and 90s. It was more “neighborhood than “hood” but nonetheless – it still had its challenges. My grandfather was savvy to the threats surrounding me/us. There was always: “Don’t go near That House”, “Stay away from Those Kids,” “Stay away from That Corner,” or “You can’t be friends with That Kid.” (For the record – he was always right.) And honestly I feel his job was easier as a parent than mine is now because the bad kids actually looked like “bad kids.” In fact; there were only a few molds of boys – there were athletic boys, smart boys, boys who got all the girls, boys who smoked weed and drank, boys who sold drugs and started fights, and regular kids like me. My grandfather could spot trouble a block away with his glasses off.

Fast forward to 2008 – my wife and I were still living in that same house as I grew up in and preparing to move. Like any other couple – we wanted a safe neighborhood, spacious house, safe schools, and good city services. For the most part; I thought we had succeeded. There was one thing that I noticed when we moved and I’m still trying to understand – everybody and every house looks the same. Out here; there is no “that house” or “that kid.” In fact there are more different kinds of kids. There are skate board kids, emo kids, goth kids, kids who abuse their parent’s pharmaceuticals, debate team kids, and the list goes and on. The challenging thing as a parent is that all these kids look alike. There is no creepy house where a child molester stays. If there’s a child molester here – he stays in a house like mines! A kid they may look “smart” to me is actually a weed head. A kid that looks like a week head may be a straight A student!

The important thing is that we have great communication with our kids and most of the time – they are the ones informing us of who the bad kids are and what they’re doing! I’m bringing this up in light of what happened in Connecticut this past weekend. I’m bringing this up because I’m sure all of those parents choose their residences with the same thought process we had when we moved in 2008. But in this day and age: the bad guys/kids are among us. Sometimes the bad guys/kids don’t even have a history of being bad.

We moved because we didn’t want our kids to catch a random bullet from an afterschool fight, we moved because we didn’t want them to be offered drugs, we didn’t want them to be peer pressured to join a gang. But as we are unfortunately finding out: danger resides in every zip code. All you can do is be the best parent you can be and leave the rest to whoever your preferred Savior is.

Those parents in Connecticut aren’t guilty of anything. It could have easily happened at my kids school or any of our children’s school. My grandfather didn’t have to worry about guys like that when I was growing up. When I was kid – a mentally challenged 20 year old probably just stayed in his grand ma’s basement playing video games and only came out the house to help her with groceries. He didn’t go to elementary schools and kill kids!

It’s a different day. Pray. Be well.

1 comment