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The Mother of All Ironies

May 8, 2011 12 comments

There’s no doubt life is hard and riddled with uncertainty and while I really do try to “take the world on with a smile”, sometimes it takes everything I’ve got.

I live at the beginning of a cul-de-sac, the first of nine homes that make a horseshoe. A few weeks ago my neighbor who lives two houses down on the left came to our door and asked me to step outside for a private conversation. She recently discovered that someone had been trying to break into her house — again. She also informed me that the alarm went off in the home of the family that lives directly across from her the same week. The police responded but found nothing.

Honestly, I can’t say I was surprised. I’ve had a feeling for a while now that something was weird in the neighborhood–again.

My neighbor was visibly upset when delivering this news. Who wouldn’t be? It’s unsettling to say the least, especially, if it’s happened before. If you’ve read my posts: My Edward, Life’s Terms – Not Mine or Everything Must Go, Including Me!, you know that my home was burglarized a year ago this past winter at least eight times that we know of.

She too was repeatedly burglarized during that time and sandwiched in-between our two homes, lives the 21-year old perpetrator.

Similar to the over $10,500 worth of items taken from my house, nearly $13,000 worth of jewelry and cash went missing from her house. Unfortunately, the two detectives assigned to her case were unable to connect the dots to my case and closed hers. Interestingly enough, these are the same two detectives that were convinced my then newly turned 11-year old son was the culprit.

I at least, receive monthly restitution checks from this bad boy living next door. And, in addition to the 6-month house arrest sentence he served (silly really) there is also an order of protection against him for each member of my family, for 5 years. Not that this is remotely comforting, the boy violates this order every day, simply by living next door. Indeed, we share grass.

The story of our burglaries from start to capture and arrest is undoubtedly a fascinating one that I hope to put on paper one day but for now, I’m simply mind–boggled by the twisted sense of humor the universe seems to have and its reluctance to let me, let this craziness go!

Tell me, what do you think the universe is trying to say when I come home with my children after a late dinner out, only to find that my house key, when inserted into the front door lock, goes round and round in an endless loop, prohibiting our entry? This being the new lock we had installed just over a year ago, after break-in number five and the first sign of a violent act in our home.

Seriously, how many times has your dead-bolt failed and what are the chances of something like this, happening to us?

Unfortunately, it was 10:00 pm on a Saturday night and although the locksmith has a 24-hour emergency number, that “mailbox” was full.

The good news is that for the most part, our house is now like Fort Knox. The bad news is that after an hour of brainstorming, trying a variety of things including the unsuccessful removal of a window air-conditioner and a desperate plea from my 10-year old daughter……

“Mom, please, it’s cold out, can’t we knock on their door and ask BBQ to help us?”

…we were literally forced to use one of the same methods my neighbor used, to break into our house.

BBQ is the pet name my kids and I have affectionately given the convicted felon living next door. The first B stands for BAD the second B is the first letter of his first name and the Q is the first letter of his last name, hence, B-B-Q. It’s an attempt to interject levity into an otherwise somber situation. It’s similar to our use of the endearing term we have for the police, which is “po- po, as in,

“Hannah, the “po-po are here to see you again.”

(See 1-9-1-4 for clarification of that reference.)

Anyway, I’ve purposefully tried to defuse the fear my kids have had of BBQ with humor and emphasize instead, just how pathetic he was to steal such things as tooth-fairy, birthday and Halloween money from children. It’s a coping skill. My kids get it. I’m sorry that they have to.

Clearly by the way, BBQ had to have heard us (through his open windows) last Saturday night, walking around our house in the dark, trying to break-in.

Is this not bizarre? Truly, for me, this was the mother of all ironies.

We broke in, by cutting the screen door to the porch with the house key that was no longer of use to us. We slipped a few fingers through the tear and unhinged the latch. Once inside the porch, we removed a screen to an unlocked window. I was elected and with the help of my two kids, climbed through.

It’s befitting that on Mother’s Day I would express how proud I am of the way my kids handled themselves; without panicking and working together to come up with a solution. They’re thinkers and have learned how to appreciate the power of humor in a tight spot. My daughter giggled her way through taking pictures, while my son took great delight in pushing my leg through the window.

For us, the situation was surreal. We laughed our hearts out.

Don’t get me wrong, even though we laughed, smiling about this really is difficult and it’s taking everything I’ve got, NOT to rationalize why I’d like to see the boy next door receive a good old fashioned “butt-kick’n”.

But I won’t go there, here.

Back to the universe. Within a three-week time period, we received news of new robbery attempts, our new dead-bolt went, non-functional and we were forced to break-into our own home.

For me, the message is clear:  It’s time to leave.

And to that end, the wheels (and there are many of them) are all in motion. Slow motion perhaps but in motion none the less. In the meantime, I am grateful for how resilient my children continue to be while the universe continues to play with uncertainty.

To all the other grateful and proud moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

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1-9-1-4

March 20, 2011 3 comments

Did you know that dialing any combination of 9-1-1 connects you to a 911 operator? It’s true.

For instance, if, let’s say, you are a nine year-old kid and your mom has a cell phone that has a 914 area code and you live in an 845 area code, when calling her from your home phone, you have to dial 1 (for long distance) 9-1-4… to reach her. At nine years-old, you may not be too land-line savvy. You might be a little slow on the dialing or you don’t always remember the “4” fast enough because you have to remember the 1 at the beginning. If there is any hesitation in getting to the 4, just dialing the 1-9-1 combination connects you to 911. And if you’re nine, no matter how many times this happens, you just think the call isn’t going through so you hang up and try again. While you’re trying again, the 911 operator is calling you back to make sure everything is “Okay” but you’re not answering the second line because you are calling your mom again on the first line, remember?

Did you also know, that when you don’t answer a 911 operator’s call back, in New York at least, they automatically send law enforcement to your house. And when they come to your house, in addition to making sure everything is “Okay“, they request to see and speak with the 911 caller.

How do I know this?

They’ve been coming to my house for years. It used to be once or twice a year since the time my son was a toddler and would find his way into our basement office and “play” with the fax machine. I never heard the return call on the fax machine from the 911 operator so, a police officer would be dispatched to our house. It took three visits before we figured out it was the toddler and the fax machine. I used to think it was only local police that responded to 911 calls but lately, it’s been a NYS Trooper. And over the past several months, the Troopers have come to our home so often, that last month when the Trooper pulled up in front of our house and my son saw him from the bay window in our living room, he simply called out:

“Hannah! Someone’s here to see you!”

Yes, it’s my nine year-old Hannah, who is responsible for our more recent meet and greets. It seems that nearly every time she tries to call my 9-1-4 cell phone, a NYS Trooper ends up at our door. No kidding!

And as of this month, it’s not just our door either!

A few weeks ago, when I went to pick up Hannah at school, I noticed a State Trooper pulling out of the parking lot as I was pulling in. I’d say that would raise a curious eye brow for any parent picking up their kid but it was me who the “porch” teacher met at my car. He came bearing the news that after trying to call me from the school phone unsuccessfully, 911 was accidentally called by my daughter. Hence the State Trooper, who apparently had a “nice little chat” with Hannah. This, was so not surprising. And it’s probably a really good thing that I work there three days a week.

I think it’s important to nurture a sense of independence in children. I think they should feel they can be trusted and shown that you have confidence in them. And it’s only in the past several months that we’ve felt comfortable enough to resume moving forward in this effort. So, I was pleased when Hannah opted to stay home alone for the 6 minutes it would take me to drive my son to his tennis lessons and come back, about a week ago.

Ah, I should have known. I hadn’t even shut the door behind me after returning when I glanced over my shoulder and saw the all too familiar, navy blue vehicle with yellow lettering pull up onto my front lawn.

“Hannah?”, I called inside the door, “Any idea why the State Troopers would be coming to our house?”

“Oh, um, yeah” she said, “that could be me.”

Between the tennis run last Friday and a quick jaunt to the post office a little later this week, the Troopers were at my house, twice. Yes, that’s twice in one week’s time.

I wonder if calls from our house are somewhat expected now or have become part of the training program for the new guys? A different Trooper comes every time. The last fellow that came was awfully, young. I suspect it’s also possible that our address has been “red flagged” for other reasons. Either way, it is always a State Trooper and, they come fast!

I never get rattled though, when I see a Trooper pull up to my house. In fact, I don’t think it’s the worst thing for my neighbors to see the company I keep. Besides, I find things like a 6ft cardboard cut-out of a vampire and NYS Troopers at my front door, comforting these days.

I also happen to be a bit partial to NYS Troopers and to one in particular, whom I will forever be indebted.

To all the other Troopers that are perhaps, taking turns coming to my house, meeting and speaking to my Hannah, I thank you for your service to our community and most especially, to my family.

Moms Picking and Choosing Their Battles

November 6, 2010 2 comments

A few weeks ago, Marisol Valles Garcia was hailed by many as the bravest woman in the world.  Marisol, a new mom and a criminology student, is the only person in a drug infested mexican municipality willing to take on the role of top cop. That’s right, the new police chief in town is a mom and she’s only 20.  Armed without guns and only a 13-person police force, mostly comprised of women, her strategy for this battle is to take a non-violent approach that focuses on building a sense of trust between authorities and the community.  “We have to try something new,” says Valles Garcia. Is she scared? Of course she is “…. but I really had the desire to do something for my community.”  Where does a 20-year old new mom find that kind of inner strength? How does she conjure up that kind of courage?  From a desire to help her community?

She is inspiring. To me anyway and how I might approach my battles.  For instance,  I have an on-going battle with my 11-year old son.  He is addicted to multiple forms of communication. At any given time of the day, he is either texting on the cell phone,  talking on Skype or Facebook-ing. Sometimes he’s doing all three at once. Ironically, while he seems to be a master at communicating with the other 11 and 12-year old tweenagers at large, I can barely get an audible response, let alone a nod, to a simple question such as …”How was your day?”  It maddens me, frustrates and drains me. It’s a daily battle and occasionally, it gets ugly. I find myself becoming hostile even and the angrier I get, the less I hear him speak, to me that is. So maybe I should take a que from this 20-year old new mom. Perhaps I need to try something new, take a less demanding, more peaceful approach, build trust and draw my strength from a fearless desire to have a relationship with my son.  If Marisol has the courage to take on a drug cartel, surely I can get through to just one growing boy or at least try.

I am curious, what’s your battle? Who inspires you? Where do you draw your strength? How do you get through?

Photo Credit: Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images

Categories: Parenting Tags: ,
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