Unaccompanied Minors

One mother-to-be seeks the elusive balance between keeping her child safe and instilling a true sense of independence.

July 2013

My fifth thought after seeing the test results on October 27, 2012: All I want is for them to be able to ride their bikes up and down the street, play at the park, and sprint home at dusk to tell me about their adventures.

The possibility of two-wheeled access to almost everything in our self-centered stratosphere is what originally lured my husband, Lyle, and me to a west Denver neighborhood 18 months earlier. He could bike to physical therapy school at Regis, and I could pedal around Sports Authority Field at Mile High and down to my LoDo office faster than I could stop-and-go through the Colfax Avenue traffic lights.

We could walk to Highlands Square or stroll down 32nd Avenue toward LoHi, where we’d grab a drink on one of the fabulous rooftops or an ice cream cone from Little Man. Our new home had a small yard—perfect for our two wheaten terriers—and Sloan’s Lake was minutes away.    

I could hear the tension in my dad’s voice when I asked for his opinion about our adopted home base, and a subsequent Google Earth search of the area started to make me concerned. Our house was actually pretty far from the renovated homes closer to Highlands Square: The tiny, two-bedroom duplex backed up to a dilapidated row house that seemed to have some less-than-permanent residents ducking in and out. The park across the street had a playground—only it was lined with splintered wood posts and paint-peeled rails. Lyle doweled our windows and ensured me that no one was getting in unless they broke glass. And if that happened, the intruder would have to face my tough, Wyoming-born husband.  

By last fall, we’d been living in our house for more than a year, and our neighborhood was improving. Investors were buying the run-down properties and more young couples were moving in. The suspicious row house behind us had been scraped and rebuilt into something more modern. The park was getting a full makeover. Yet none of this would change the new reality I faced last October 27.

Thoughts one through four as I digested the joyous results:

1. Oh my God! I broke into my happy dance as my dogs watched, bewildered.
2. Should I run out to tell Lyle, who’s fixing our makeshift fence in the backyard, or enjoy my little secret for two more minutes? I decided to wait.
3. Now that I’ve told him he’s going to be a dad, is he going to pass out? He didn’t. (In fact, he’s had a proud-papa perma-grin for almost nine months now.)
4. But, wait. If we stay in our perfect-for-a-young-couple, close-to-all-the-action neighborhood, I may be forced to be a helicopter parent. I want kids covered in dirt and grass stains, not Bubble Wrap.