After groceries I had Nels lead me to the proper house and we knocked on the door. The man B. came to the door and recognized me instantly. His face opened in a smile.
I told him I felt I might have come off badly the day before. I thanked him for helping my son. I also introduced my family by name and showed him where my mother lived (just across the street). I explained to him that Sophie and Nels traveled regularly around the neighborhood and specifically back and forth from their house to their Gram’s. I made sure to mention our names and my mother’s name a few times.
He told me I hadn’t come off as rude the day before, merely preoccupied, and that he wanted to share his concerns. I nodded and said I didn’t worry about stranger abduction as a relevant daily threat, being as it is such a statistical anomaly. We even talked about the disappearance of Lindsay Baum in McCleary, something that has hurt our community to say the least. I said, “I know how much this hurts, and I know people get worried. I knew what you said yesterday was out of concern, and I wanted to come back and make sure to tell you this.”
When I said, “I want my kids to be able to walk around the neighborhood.” B. seemed to absolutely relate to this, and he nodded and voiced understanding. And of course, now that he knows us – and we know him, and his name, and his standard poodle’s name – I can’t help but think this is what makes neighbhorhoods “safe” (or safer, or as safe as things can get) – speaking to one another, connecting, meeting as fellow humans, increasing our connection. The kids on the street aren’t just children who may or may not be at risk or may or may not be properly taken care of. They are children with names, and their caregivers have names, and he is welcomed into our lives, into participating, into voicing his concern and hearing my response.
I gave him a stack of cookies to seal the deal. And I pet his dog, a lovely animal. And then we said farewell for now.
It was a good meeting.