“that looks like a stop sign on your shirt.” a. quips. as the visitor is stopped in the middle of his presentation and looks down.
“you’re right. i never thought of it that way.” a bewildered look on his face turns to a ‘wow. i can’t believe i never noticed that’ stare, and then right back to the presentation. i was already sold on what he was selling – he was on autopilot. i just needed to keep the kids wrangled and ‘ahh’ at the fact that the same security system that would be monitoring our home is the one that monitors justice scalia’s. seriously he said that. i thought it was, still think it is, a strange person to use as an example. my smart alec mind was present but i kept it in my head “oh justice scalia. thee justice scalia? well, then, i mean i bet he’s pretty safe, and what? i am being monitored by the same security system as he is? do i get to meet him? reagan was kept relatively safe and he appointed him. right? okay. that is all i needed. where do i sign.”

i don’t know why i feel odd about this, but we got a security system installed. weird right? well, not if you have one or have always had one, but i never thought there was a need for one – not sure i do now. to be completely honest, the main reason we got a security system was because everyone in the neighborhood has one – at least that is the way i see it. we noticed all the signs in between the neighbors shrubs and front doors and…oh no, no, no, no. the jones’. okay. i’m going to need to breathe for a minute and come right back. this isn’t really like keeping up, is it? i mean it’s not like getting a pool because everyone else has one. we’re just following their advice. perhaps everyone who lives in neighborhoods where there is very little crime should buy a security system for a family in a more crime filled neighborhood. what a weird sponsorship that would be. ‘for forty dollars a month you can ensure the safety of a family 20 blocks away.’ why not pool that money and invest in resources that would build up those communities and reduce the “need” for crime.

two nights ago i went into a’s bedroom to check on her about an hour after she went to bed. she was sleeping soundly, as was h.. i know they’re safe – just like to hear their sleeping inhales and exhales. i am certain i would make a good cat burglar, the way i creep in and out of their rooms, keeping the right pressure on the door as it closes – not a sound. the next morning a. came into our bedroom and was quite scared about a “black person” who was watching her sleep. “dad, he was like all black and had doots (i am bald and a. calls what little hairs i do have on my head ‘doots’.) just like you. he crouched down and watched me. i dreamed about him all night. i’m freaked out.” i let her know that i checked on her last night, that it’s dreamt not dreamed, and i looked like a shadow because it was dark in the room. this did not calm her. she went on to share the story with me several times throughout the day, once saying “dad, i’m serious my mind keeps telling me to tell you that there was someone in my room last night. if it was you, why didn’t you say anything?” i was starting to get a little freaked out. she then said that the person looked like the guy who came to sell us the security system. who incidentally looks like a “black” version of me. was he really with the security company? could this all be a hoax to get into our house and make us feel safe with the system that they know the code for? are they going to systematically steal our identities and then our possessions? do i have an over active imagination like our four-year old daughter? i knew it was me, but she was so insistent that it wasn’t, and she kept saying that he just stared at her. those of you who know me won’t find this hard to believe, i checked under every bed, in every closet, and searched every corner of the house for this person – which i was now starting to think might be a ghost of some sort. my mind (a.) had tricked me into feeling a presence in the house all the while knowing it was me. why was i getting caught up in her story?

coincidentally, that same day the security system people called and said they had an opening to install our system in twenty minutes. we were going to head to the library for story time, but put it off for the installation. it was a quick process. what took longer were my “okay, so if we are leaving for an hour we hit the code then ‘away’ on the keypad once. right? okay? well if we are in the house and going to bed what do we do then?” he humored my questions and we were set up. i didn’t feel any safer knowing that he could have been in on the elaborate scheme to take everything from us, but checked the security system off the to-do list.

fear, security, and paranoia. wow, what a trio. a. has asked me several times why we need the security system. “well, a. when we are away from the house we want to make sure no one gets in” she knows there’s more to the story. “but dad why would anyone want to get into our house?” good question. does anyone? i don’t want her or h. to live in fear. i don’t want to live in fear. i also don’t want them to think that there are “things” (people) that are ‘out there’ wanting to hurt us or take our things, but i do want to be sure that as they grow up they are aware that not everyone is as honest and cool as our family, friends, and neighbors – actually most of us humans. i’m struggling with this. by installing this device, am i just being realistic and protecting our family and home? or am i contributing to a greater divide? am i saying ‘hey, i know you want this, but you can’t have it”. it’s another gate, another fence, another boundary that further separates us from one another. another damn barrier that says “stop let me check you out first.” is living in a utopia vision that people are mostly ‘good’ going to help create it. show others that the world is not perfect. your house may be broken into. take some preventative measures like locking your doors, but do you really want to punch a code every time you get home? i guess we do it at work to stop the alarm that we may have had a real life situation come up and, heaven forbid, punched in two minutes late.

we woke this morning and made our way to the breakfast table. the back patio door is next to the table. we looked down and there was a line of ants going from the kitchen table out the door. h. promptly got on her knees and started squashing them with her index finger, a. made a few squeal noises and went to the couch, and i sat there thinking ‘how insanely ironic life is’. off to the store to get some ant traps.

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