In Rudy’s last post he wrote about sleeping near a motel parking lot outside Salt Lake City. The question comes up, even in my own mind – why did we let him do it? It would have been easy to say that that it was too risky, given the shirtless, drinking guys and the busy street nearby. But we didn’t. We worried some and let him do it.
My explanation is only mine. It may not work for any other parent out there, but it works for me. He is a growing young man with a goal. He talked to the motel clerk and got the okay from him. This same clerk told Rudy to let him know if anyone gave him any trouble. He slept where the guys couldn’t see him and probably didn’t even know he was there. He thought things through and made a determination that he was safe. Mark and I did the same. He is becoming a responsible and aware young man.
The sprinklers came on in the night, the clerk helped him move. People walked down the street without knowing Rudy was there. Rudy felt uneasy, but not so much as to give up.
We all do risk assessment every day. We determine what is okay for us and for our kids. Do we make them wear their bike helmets despite peer pressure not to? Yes. Do we pay attention to what they are up to with their friends? Yes. Do we expose them to the world, the good, the unknown, and not so good of it? Yes. We let them explore and take some risks, because that is the only way that they will learn about any of it, especially the parts that they aren’t used to living. We will never be able to experience and understand all of what goes in the world, but we need to take the opportunities that we have and learn from them.
I was nervous about Rudy out there that night. The fact that no one knew he was there made a big difference. As a young person, I was also in situations that were less than ideal. I learned confidence and began understand that not everyone lives the same way. It is the beginning of tolerance, empathy and acceptance. It is also the beginning of noticing others and caring about someone besides yourself, of wanting to make the world a better place.
I want my kids to experience the world, to tune in to what goes on around them. I want them not to judge people. I want them to be confident and have adventures. I want them to be good at assessing risk. I want them to care about other people and about their environment. Kids can be way more capable than we give them credit for. Rudy is old enough to be learning and doing these things. I want to help him in his goal of sleeping outside for a year. I also want to help him become an aware, thoughtful young man ready to take his place in this world.
That is why I let him sleep outside near a motel parking lot.
Please support him as he learns and grows, as he sleeps to make the world a better place. There are people out there that we can help through donations. The donate buttons are at the top of the home page.