Well, after my last post I was spending some time with dd1 as she dropped off to sleep, and she told me about an incident that I hadn't been aware of, and this made me realize that I may have another interesting issue to navigate: some of the teens seem eager to see what it will take to get me to call the police again.
Dd said that after the police left, she and her friend were continuing to collect acorns, and she felt herself being pelted with a few acorns but she wasn't sure but what it might be an accident. Then she got hit in the back of the head with a basketball, and she said she didn't want to give anyone the satisfaction of turning to see who did it, so she just got up and started walking over to tell me.
She was pretty sure it was her friend's older brother, since he was the one playing with the ball. His parents were still there but she said they didn't act like they saw it. As she was walking to me, she heard some whispering of, "Now she's gonna go tell her mom," and she saw me watching her walk over and assumed I must have seen everything, and since I wasn't reacting she thought it must not be a big deal and she went back to playing with her friend.
I told her I hadn't seen her get hit by acorns or a ball, and I said I do want to know if someone is physically harming her. But I also said it was okay for her to use her judgement. Apparently after she decided not to tell me and went back to playing, it stopped. But we went home soon after, so I'm not sure if it would have stopped permanently.
I realize that some of these kids might be thinking it would be cool to see if they can get me to dial 911 over and over. Especially since they've heard the comments of at least two other adults who were there, and know that there's a good likelihood that a lot of adults will take a dislike to me if I keep calling the police over to their neighborhood playground.
I know it's very important to be unafraid to call when there is someone trying to do actual physical harm to one of us or to anyone else. I say this even though the officer did seem a bit discouraging during the few minutes he was talking one-on-one with me, out of earshot of everyone else.
He was saying that if the boy's parents were unwilling to cooperate (and he had a feeling that they were not involved parents), then there wasn't very much they could do. I said can't you at least talk to the parents, and he said not if the kids won't tell me where they live.
That was a bit puzzling to me, because it was my understanding that if a police officer wanted, for any reason, to see my ID or to know where I lived, and I refused to tell him -- well, I thought this would be grounds for arrest. You mean I can commit any crime I want and if I'm not willing to "cooperate" with the police and tell them who I am, there's nothing they can do?
I didn't say all this to the police, though. I figured it was better to be positive and show appreciation for their quick response. At least from the little I heard of their conversation with the kids, they did learn their address (though I guess they said they wouldn't talk to their mom this time, but would if it happened again... apparently the father is dead).
It's not like they were threatening to ignore me if I called again, but maybe they are worried that I'll just call for anything and everything. Also, maybe they are hoping that nice people like me will just realize they need to stay in their houses in "tough neighborhoods" like this one. Or, better yet, move to the burbs.
I still recall taking a walk once, years ago, not far from where we live now, and having an officer pull up to talk to me to find out my purposes for walking there. He informed me that this was not a good neighborhood for taking a walk because there were lots of prostitutes and other bad people.
So I realize that to some in law enforcement, it just makes their jobs easier if any and all potential victims are willing to stay home and let the bullies have the run of the neighborhood. Kind of like my old job in a daycare center was a lot easier on those days when most of the parents had a holiday and kept their kids at home.
I realize it's important that I only call about actual, harmful, physical contact or threats. And it's important that I stick to the facts. And be calm and polite and logical. And be prepared that some adults will take a dislike to me because they just don't like anyone who calls the police.
I also can really feel in my heart that we will make some good and lasting friendships through this whole ordeal. I have a feeling that there are other parents who'd like for their kids to be able to play in their hometown without fear.
I also realize that, though the learning curve may be tough, these are priceless skills that my girls and I are learning, and it's priceless empowerment that we are gaining.
Sometimes I just wish that putting the bullies in their place was as easy as the "Home Alone" kid makes it look.
But, even if it is harder in real life, maybe we can have just as much fun doing it.
We've sure been having a lot of fun this evening brainstorming and learning together as a family, so the bullies may be bringing us even closer together. Thank you, bullies! Now that I know from the article that you have high self-esteem and low anxiety and there's no reason to pity you, I sure do think it's our turn to start enjoying this whole process!