This recent trend of people wearing clown masks to spook people is causing some problems in my house. My kids take the city bus home from school every day, and now my middle-schooler is a bit unnerved. On one hand, I’m a little surprised it’s alarming him because he sees suspicious looking people on the bus and downtown all the time, but, on the other hand, of course it’s super creepy. So far he hasn’t seen anyone in a clown mask, but he is definitely hyper-aware of the threat.
Although this type of activity happens in San Francisco all the time, it is really unfortunate for parents (me) who want to give kids their independence. I’m proud of how my kids get around town on their own and really do think it will serve them well in the long run. They have confidence in themselves both because they have earned our trust to be on their own and for knowing how to navigate a city. Naturally, I don’t want anything to happen to them to ruin that (or to happen to them, period!).
Every day I know there is a risk to them while they’re out on their own. Any number of things could happen to them, but I don’t want them to live in a bubble. I want them to have street smarts and be able to assess a situation and handle themselves if something arises. At the same time, I know if anything bad happened to them I would feel incredibly guilty and probably regret my choices.
I have a good friend, a friend who doesn’t let her 13-year- old out of her eyesight, who has asked me if I think she should let him walk places alone. My answer is always the same – only if she’s comfortable with it. The last thing I want is for something to happen and feel huge remorse for opening my big mouth. Not to mention it’s not remotely my business…
In the meantime, I will continue to let my kids roam the city on their own and keep my fingers crossed that they continue to be safe. But if I see a clown on my bus ride home, I may have to give him or her a piece of my mind.