Living in Loudoun's Bubble
Do kids need to live in urban areas to understand “real” life?
I recently went on a girls’ weekend with friends from college. One is now a single lawyer living near the U-Street corridor in Washington, DC. Though her neighborhood is one of those deemed “hip” and “up-and-coming” by real estate agents and yuppies, last week two people were shot in their ankles in a gang ritual just a few blocks from her townhouse. With the topic of living conditions on our minds, we chatted about an absent friend’s recent move to Charlottesville, VA.
“I don’t know,” my lawyer friend said. “It’s weird to live in such a bubble. That kind of suburban living just isn’t real life.”
“We don’t all have to be shot in the ankles to experience real life,” I retorted. I guess I’m pregnant and irritable. I didn’t apologize. And pregnancy probably has nothing to do with my behavior.
She brought up an issue that sits uneasily with me. I grew up in a dangerous section of Prince George’s County, MD, right next to southeast DC. As a child, I understood that if I heard noises sounding like gunshots, I was to stay away from the windows. That wasn’t paranoia – a high school classmate was killed in our school parking lot, an innocent bystander at a robbery.
Fast forward 15 years and I’m raising my kids in the safest place I can find. My kids are not going to live through the terror I experienced on a day-to-day basis. They will be more like their rural community-raised father, who eagerly looks outside “to see what’s going on” on the rare occasions we hear a loud “Pop!”
But, are my kids going to be missing basic life skills? Is it preferable to hide under the kitchen table every time a car back-fires, or to break out the binoculars during a drive-by shooting? I don’t know.
I’d rather make this suburban life my family’s reality. I’d rather my kids hear stories about mommy’s old days than have to experience it firsthand. And, I’d rather believe the worst consequence of my kid going to school every day is a broken heart, teasing or a sports injury.
Part of me regrets that my kids will miss out on frequent field trips to DC’s museums, street-based common sense and other perks from my childhood. But, we’ll go ahead and stay in the bubble of Loudoun County.