I’m going to preface this with a few things. 1- We moved to the suburbs from a city- where we loved living, but while I was home on maternity leave there was not one but three home invasions all within a block of our house. One of the houses we shared a corner of our yard with. I was home alone for 14 hour stretches because my wife worked an hour away. I had visions of armed intruders coming while I was breastfeeding twins with no defense.
My car was broken into one night. And with my sister and I standing ten feet away some one came running toward her running car to try and steal it. So there were a few things that led us to move.
2- I didn’t want to live in a space as rural as we do. But we fell in love with this house and pool and the house we lived in for nine years was very close to the neighbors. I’d be cooking in the kitchen and suddenly a neighbor would be literally in our window chatting with me if it was open. My wife didn’t want that anymore. So now we have over an acre of land to separate us from our “neighbors”.
The trade-off of space and a pool was a white Republican town. I’m not sure we will stay but here we are for now. We had to move daycares too. We are now in much smaller and more suburbia type daycare with far less diversity in the teachers and kids. Previously my two little white boys were the minority. I liked it that way.
By moving here I knew we’d have stuff to deal with. But Sunday morning caught me by surprise.
Declan named the closest city and said, “It’s a scary place!” I was surprised that the name of the nearest city was in his vocabulary and also that he had formed an opinion about it. My wife facepalmed because she knew this was going to lead into an angry rant about ignorant white people by me.
First we asked where he heard this. But as he noted my intensity and interest grow Declan stopped talking. My wife and I hadn’t made this statement so it had to be some one at daycare.
I went into my rant. “It’s not scary. I work there at the hospital. You were born there!” my voice apparently was rising and my wife tried to calm me down, and I said, “No, this is all because of ignorant freaking white people in this area of our freaking state who think that “insert name of city” is bad because there are Black people there. Freaking racist bullshit.” Declan then started talking about stickers obviously trying to change the topic of conversation. Yes I swore in front of my kids. I was pissed.
I interrupted him. “We are going to ‘city name'” They looked at me surprised, Declan said, “Today?” I said, “Yup.” So we went.
It’s not a particularly big city and in my humble opinion not scary at all. As with all cities there are parts and bars that you should avoid after midnight but what’s interesting about working inpatient psychiatry is meeting all the homeless people that live in the city. I generally see several people I’ve taken care of walking the streets and the green and receive waves and nods so I never particularly worry about my safety. I’ve generally met the “Bogeymen” on my unit. They aren’t scary. Just ill.
We walked the streets. We had lunch at a restaurant with live music and chocolate chip pancakes. We saw people of all ethnicities and most importantly we showed the boys that though different from our sleepy town it is not scary and we were not scared to be there.
Considering we live in the Northeast there is significant racism in our “liberal” state. I will not be raising my white sons to fear a place or people because they look or seem different than us. We told them repeatedly that they could tell their class we went to the city and it’s not scary. I hope they did.
Going downtown is challenging because of parking and you know…twins. But we will have to suck it up and do it more frequently in order to raise them with the mentality that suburbia is not the only way to be or the right way to live or the better way.
As I said we are both unsure of staying here. Safety wise we are better off than where we were. But diversity and raising our sons in such a Republican white town, I don’t know that we are better off. The home invasions were real and scary. But white suburbia is apparently just as scary to me.
I don’t know the right answer. I just know that last Sunday we had fun in the scary city.
2 thoughts on “Visiting the “Scary” City with Twins”
Yes, there’s a lot of racism to unpack when it comes to the idea of the “scary city.”
I’ve seen a similar thing happen with my neighborhood. My neighborhood transitioned from being Italian mafia central to a West Indian (in other words, people of color) neighborhood in the 1980s and 1990s. Even though my neighborhood is actually MUCH safer than it was back when it was mafia central, there are lots of people who say that my neighborhood is “on the decline.” Ugh.
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Just to add context, I live in a neighborhood in New York City.