The Stakeout

A few years back, a friend told me that one of her good friends had just bought a house in a gated community in my parents’ hometown in SoCal, Thousand Oaks. My haughty, incredulous response, “Why?” My friend, whose daughter was a toddler at the time, responded that the town is really safe and has great schools (all true).

You see, I was cool and childless at the time, and living in New York. I so didn’t need to worry about stuff like that.

As I’m typing this, I’m staking out the house that I hope will be our future home. It’s in the burbs. Seriously in the burbs. But guess what: The town is pretty safe, and the schools are superb.

Why the stakeout? The house is on a busy street—not Fifth Avenue busy, but busier than your normal cul-de-sac. So I’m staking it out during commute hours to see just how busy it is, and whether we’ll be able to live with the “traffic.”

Oh, how things change. There are too many clichés to count when people talk about parenthood…how your priorities will be completely different, how you won’t recognize yourself from your pre-parenthood days, and most importantly, how you’ll do things you swore you would never do.

Like taking a job because it has excellent benefits…or moving to the burbs. My (hopefully) new hometown is the most suburban area I’ve considered living since moving off to college. But the reason that clichés about parenthood are clichés, is that they’re pretty much spot on.

I do want P to be able to play in the yard, have enough room to play hide and seek, and get a top-notch public education. Isn’t that what every parent wants?

I am, however, starting to prepare our reasoning for when P is a sullen teenager and wails, “You lived in Venice, Rome, New York, and San Francisco and chose to live here? Why?

Dearest, because it’s safe and gave you an education that allows you to pinpoint all those places on a map.

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