Ding-dong Ditch

My son admitted to a bit of “Ding-dong Ditch” the other day. I tried not to admonish too strongly–after all, it used to be one of my favorite illicit activities, and one that was relatively harmless. But I did tell him that it was not thoughtful, complete with reminders about how some people–older or infirm ones–have to work very hard just to respond to a rung bell. I saw the lightbulb moment in his eyes.

And then, the scared-Mommy thoughts surfaced: “What if some creep comes to the door, hunts them down, and grabs…” – or- “What if they don’t make it away from the door in time, and the grumpy, gun-toting dowager down the street decides to teach them a lesson, barely missing a foot, or an arm as she shoots, cackles (not all dowagers are dignified), and bangs the door?”

What makes our children stop and think about how they spend their time? Do each and every one of our lessons land somewhere inside of them, to be culled as needed–in time to keep them safe? I like this fantasy.

I also know reality–know that all too often our beloved children step out and into trouble before we can blink back our fearful tears.

“STOP!” I want to yell – “Ingest every single shred of wisdom I have heaped on you.”

“STOP!” I want to yell – “Don’t make the same mistakes I made.”

“STOP!” I tell myself. Then I take a deep breath (or five hundred) remember that I AM doing my level-and-not-so-level-headed best to help my children avoid the deepest potholes, and that there are plenty of other signs along the way–signs I hope they will heed.

Funny thing is…had I known all this before becoming a parent–how certain moments make you wish you hadn’t, because sometimes the worry and the pain seem unbearable-nothing could have stopped me from doing it anyway.

14 thoughts on “Ding-dong Ditch

  1. Yeah, I think if we knew more of the things we’d encounter as parents we would run before we had any. I’m happy to report that once kids reach the age of twenty, their brains mature, and that impulsive quality retreats. Let’s see, you’ve only got how many more years??

    1. Yes, many more years before my little ones get there–and I do know the truth of what you are saying (as I have adult children too), but it seems to be just as difficult to navigate the years prior to “enlightenment” now as it was then–perhaps more so, as I know more. I guess–knowing what I know…I DID do it all again. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I think I step back a lot to allow my kids to figure things out on their own, however, my husband tells me that “I give the kids too much information.” I never thought it was a bad thing, but it’s me trying to impart wisdom without actually telling them what to do… so I’m not REALLY stepping back as much as I thought. It’s hard.

    1. And if we stepped completely back we would be negligent. I would rather tell them too much than too little. There’s also the “leading by example” mantra…

  3. To me this speaks to two different yet related issues: teaching/showing the difference between right and wrong, and wanting/needing to protect/care for my daughter (even as a grown woman) vs. standing at enough of a remove to watch her take charge of her life. I think you’re right — the ability to make good judgment is something good parents infuse in rather than impose on their children. And when they stumble, they learn a little something, too.

  4. The cosmos includes among its wonders an unseen force that protects children. We can’t count on it to overcome our carelessness, but it will carry forward our watchfulness and safekeeping. Looking back at our lives, we know it did amazing feats for us as kids, and now it will do so for our kids.

  5. STOP! Or daddy will blame mommy for not watching!

    Yesterday Parker got bonked in the face, the day before both boys decided to play tackle football with their 19 and 20 year old cousins and each has a small scar to brag about. I worry about the injuries, they worry about not getting to have enough fun.

    And daddy? He just wants his boys safe and thinks that mommy is dangling them from a high wire somedays – of course I am not, but the boys would think that was fun and try it anyway!

    It is more fun than scary, and nothing could have stopped me either!

  6. Having children was a huge surprise. I was an only child for so long and then my brother was sickly, so I really had no experience at all. I am so grateful to them for helping me to grow up. Love the sunflower!

    1. I smiled when I realized we both have sunflowers on our blogs. And I too am grateful to my children for all the unexpected ways they have “grown me up” and kept me youthful at the same time.

  7. Oh the days of our innocence. It takes me back to some simple times. We would ding-dong ditch but usually leave a gift. Sadly it was usually a stolen watermelon from a farmers patch who had worked extremely hard to cultivate I’m sure.

    So which is worse, stealing or just some good old fashioned obnoxiousnes? It used to be stealing but with the the current dangers involved in this event, it’s hard to refute your wisdom.

    I remember as soon as the farmer came into my dad’s old country cafe and told the story of some kids cleaning him out the night before, he was wise enough to know I was sure to have had something to do with it. It didn’t take many words for him to get his point across. Mostly because he knew I had already felt bad because of the morals Him and my mom had taught (even as divorced parents). Not so much that stealing was wrong, that was a given, but to respect the property and lifestyle of others.

    It sounds like your son was feeling guilty or wouldn’t have come to you in the first place. Sadly many kids nowadays wouldn’t have the same guilt(my oldest included). My guess is he’s a good kid with great parents who have taught him to respect others and he just got caught up in a testosteron moment.

    Too bad I fear even sending my little girl to the park by herself now. It isn’t fair our kids can’t enjoy the simplicities of playing hide and go seek til all hours of the night or do a scavenger hunt or something as silly as ding-dong ditch without the fears you’ve suggested.

    Keep up the good work, you and your husband should be proud he trusts you enough to come to you for guidance. Who knows how much longer it will last!

    1. Thanks Tony. I suppose we romanticize the past, too. I realize that just because we all made it through the seemingly safer times, does not negate the tragedies of which we and our parents were not aware. When it comes to parenting, especially, it’s ok to be a bit paranoid.

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