The Whole World In My Hands

For the last several years, my daughter has been asking me to drop her off in the middle of Chicago. She’s 14 now and has grown up in the suburbs all her life. She’s smart – gets nearly straight A’s in school – but her street sense is lacking.

She has wanted me to drop her off right in the middle of the city, without any money or cell phone. (That’s a whole other blog itself!) I imagined it would be fun for her. She loves Chicago; the lakefront, the museums, shopping on Michigan Avenue… (Not that she knows how to get to any of those places.)

I have resisted this idea of hers because along with those other fun things, Chicago also has strip joints, crack houses and scam artists too. Her reply to this is that since she’s not interested in any of those kinds of things she will steer clear. I wonder however, does she really know when she is in the wrong neighborhood? I grew up in Chicago. You can be walking down the street in a perfectly good neighborhood and before you know it, it changes. You are now on some gang’s turf and you don’t even realize it. Would she know what to do? Or say? Could she get herself out of that situation if she needed to?

She has a reply for this as well (like any teenager worth their salt, she has a reply for everything!) If she gets turned around she could always ask for help. Right. What could happen to a 14 year old girl wondering the streets asking for help?

For years the answer has been ‘no’. Until last night. Of course she hasn’t really been asking to be dropped off in the middle of Chicago – rather in the middle of cyber space. Last night I finally agreed to let her get a Facebook page.

The Internet is exactly like that great big city. It has everything in the world that is fun and interesting. It also has some very dark places and very bad neighborhoods. Take one wrong turn and you will find yourself there pretty quick. Can you always tell when you are in a good neighborhood and a bad one? Are you savvy enough to always get that right? I’m guessing no. I’m guessing your kids aren’t either.

I dropped my little girl off in the middle of the world wide web yesterday. My intention is to pull the car away very slowly.

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