A few weeks ago, two little girls rang our doorbell and asked if Ryan could come out and play.
At the time, I thought this was the greatest day of our lives. Now I realize that was the day Ryan stepped out on his journey to a life of crime.
Ryan and I had been taking a walk, when two young sisters rode past us on scooters. Ryan took off chasing them, desperate to play with them. Sadly, he couldn’t run as fast as they could scoot, and he got frustrated to the point of tears. The girls were very sweet and tried to include him by rolling slowly along side us as we walked home. We dropped them off at their house, six houses down from us.
Ryan spent the next few hours sulking. He had really wanted to play with those kids, but he just couldn’t work out the logistics of two kids on scooters and one kid without wheels.
Late that afternoon, our doorbell rang. The girls from down the street asked if Ryan could come out and play.
Ryan has a scooter, but he hasn’t yet developed the coordination to ride it properly, so we opted for skates. The girls didn’t want to stand around while Ryan geared up, so they told us they would meet us at the park. Ryan and I skated to the park, the kids played one or two painfully awkward rounds of hide and seek, and then the girls had to go home.
I was thrilled that Ryan had finally found some neighbors willing to play with him, and he was clearly happy to have someone other than me to hang out with.
The next week, Ryan really wanted someone to play hopscotch with him (technically he said he wanted someone to watch him play hopscotch) in our driveway, and he was emphatic that that “someone” could not be me. I suggested he go ask the girls from six houses down. He thought this was an excellent suggestion, but made it clear that this would be a solo mission: I was to stay home and not follow him to their house. I told him to go ring their bell, and then to come right back.
About 20 minutes later, Ryan came home with a lady who lives waaaaay down the street. It seems the girls had not been home, so he had taken it upon himself to ring every doorbell for the next 1/3 of a mile or so.
He didn’t wait around to see if folks were home. He didn’t consider whether he knew the people who lived in a particular house or whether or not they had kids. He just rang and ran.
I explained that we can’t do this.
Yesterday, again wanting someone to play with, Ryan announced he wanted to see if our next-door neighbors were home. I stopped him and said “What are you going to say when you ring the bell?” He scowled at me and barked, “I’ll talk to you later, Mommy,” and he marched next door.
After several minutes, I went over there to look for him, and to make sure he wasn’t ringing everyone else’s doorbell. We found him in the neighbors’ back yard.
“I could not find them in their house!” he complained.
“Wait,” Stu asked, perplexed by this phrasing “did you go inside their house?”
“Yes of course I do.”
No. No no no, we explained, horrified: you can not go into someone’s house when they’re not there. This is illegal. You can get arrested and go to jail.
“I want to wait for them to come home,” he said, heading for their house.
We told him, in no uncertain terms, that he could wait on our lawn, but not on their lawn.
“Can I wait at their house?” he persisted.
“No,” I said, “That would make you a stalker.”
“Can I be a stalker?” he asked, hopefully.
“Pleeeease???” he begged.
So now Stalking is on the ever-growing list of Things We May Not Do.
The moral of this story: Don’t let your kid play with the neighbors. Not even once.