Chris Rose: Questions for a parent in New Orleans

Published: Jun. 4, 2012 at 8:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2012 at 4:38 PM CDT
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Watching the news last week – stories about child killers and child victims – my youngest son turned to me and asked: Daddy, am I going to be killed?

I don't need to tell you: A parent gets many challenging questions.

And I don't need to tell you: This one ranks high on the list of challenges.

What to say?

Other than: Of course not.

Am I sure of that? Well. Yes, I am.

I think.

Is he – are they; all three of my kids – convinced?

I sure hope so.

I tell them what we all tell ourselves: Stay away from the wrong people. Stay away from the wrong places.

But is it that simple?

How do we identify as such – the "wrong" people and the "wrong" places?

Folks who live on Simon Bolivar Boulevard – where the shooting victims were 5 and 10 – say it's a fine family neighborhood.

They should know. I guess. Could happen anywhere.

Which is probably true. Because drug dealers can – and do – live anywhere, operate everywhere. And crime follows them.

And robbers rob... where opportunity lies.

Rafael Quintanilla, murdered by, police say, a 13- and a 15-year-old while sitting on his front porch, likely assumed he was safe, there at home on Baudin Street in Mid-City.

So, yeah: Random stuff happens.

I just tell my kids – like we tell ourselves – it won't happen here. At our house. On our street.

Because we have to tell them that. And we have to believe it ourselves.

Otherwise... what?

Consumed by fear is what.

Walk down the street, and you can't really tell who presents a danger and who doesn't, no matter the age. The bad guys could be on your street, in your neighborhood, outside your grocery store, at your kids' school.

That's life in New Orleans.

You just cross your fingers and hope it's true: If you stay out of trouble, trouble won't come looking for you.

At least, we hope.

At least, we pray.

Because we have to.