Need your advice.
Background: We live in a security estate. For those who don't live in South Africa, security estates are walled off / cordoned off mini-suburbs within suburbs. The estate is usually surrounded by electric fences and there is only one entrance / exit to the estate which is access controlled and manned by security guards. Some estates are big with well over 200 houses (like the one my parents live in) and others might have only a handful of houses. (Ours has 75 houses). There are parks and communal areas within the estate. There are usually rules about how the houses should look within the estate (some estates will have a certain 'look' that they want everyone to adhere to (ours doesn’t), however the rules are mostly about making sure that the houses and gardens are well-maintained / speed limits on communal roads, community living etc). It is like a mini safe place, a protected oasis in an otherwise open (and sometimes scary) place. It costs to live in these estates and I appreciate how lucky I am to be living here. Living in a security estate allows my kids to have the type of childhood we had as kids – riding their bikes outside, roaming in the streets (within the estate), visiting neighbours, front door open etc. (The reality of living in a place like South Africa is a discussion for another day)
That was just setting the scene. Now to the situation we find ourselves in.
There is a boy who lives in the estate who is not very well behaved. He is about 8 or 9 years old. Let’s call him John. John does ‘normal’ naughty things like ring the bell and run away (he is always the instigator) which is a pain but not important, he sometimes breaks the plants in the park. He comes racing down the road on his scooter without looking for cars. But he has done other ‘not so normal’ things. He once swore at Rose, he told her to f*** off. WELL, you can imagine how well that went down. Rose does not take kindly to that type of thing. He has also said rude words to the other children (I sound like one of my children. “Rude words”. Heh). Inappropriate words for a 9 year old.
I have had to have a moan at him once or twice for his bad behaviour, but never in an ugly way. However whenever I talk to him there is an air of passive defiance. As if he couldn’t care what I was saying. John is only 8 or 9 but I don’t have a good feeling about him. I’ve told Kate I do not want her playing with this boy. I am afraid I don’t trust him. Which I don’t like saying, because I love all children, and I especially hate labelling kids. I am always drawn to the ‘problem’ children. I have a soft spot for them, we seem to have a connection. And yet with this child, there is none.
And then this happened:
One of the other children in the complex has become quite friendly with us. His little brother sometimes plays with John. This older child told us that John told him that he hates everyone in our house and that one day he is going to kill us all. He already has a penknife that his father bought him (??) and when he is older he is going to buy a gun and shoot us.
I know children talk big talk and that sometimes they say “I am going to kill so and so (so and so usually being their sibling), but I feel so uncomfortable about this. If it came from a child that behaved within what we consider normal socially acceptable behaviour, I might write it off but I am actually genuinely fearful of this child. Of what he might do now or in the future to my kids or I.
It is a small estate we live in, we all kind of know each other (although I do not really know John’s parents besides to wave hello), I don’t want to make things awkward for us. We want to stay in our estate forever!
What should I do? Leave it? Have a talk to John? Have a talk to John’s parents (please say no to this option)? Warn my kids to stay away from John? Do I speak to the parents of the little brother who John plays with? (His older brother says the little brother is already influenced by John and he has a young sister too).
I know what my husband will say, he will say ‘just leave it’ but it is bothering me. If we hadn’t just had the Boston bombing I might have felt differently, but I am suddenly so conscious of children who exhibit socially unacceptable behaviour. I am frightened for them and for us.
What would you do?