I'm sorry I couldn't let you go play inside your friend's house today. I'm sorry that you don't understand why I can't let you play in other people's homes that I don't know very well, and why saying "hi" to someone's parent a couple of times is not enough for me to tell whether or not that person runs a meth lab in their garage or has a liking for young girls. I'm sorry you don't understand why I laughed when you said, "But his dad's not even home, no one's home!", like you thought that would make me more likely to say yes. It doesn't help, judging from the numbers of random neighborhood kids who parade through our home all the time, that not many other parents seem to have the kind of rules we do. I know you think I'm strict and overprotective. I promise you will only feel like that more as you get older. You are so lovely and sweet, so friendly and trusting, and I'm trying to keep anyone from taking that away from you....I am walking a thin line of trying to keep you as safe as I can without becoming a neurotic freak that scowls at every guy that glances at you in Walmart, a line between trying to make you believe that most people are sane and ok, but that there's enough crazies out there to really make these kinds of precautions necessary, and everytime we have a conflict like this I wonder if I've crossed too far to the other side of that line and if *I* am going to be the one to screw you up. If you only knew how I worry every time you spend the night away from home, how I wait with worry when you pedal your bicycle to the library 4 blocks away. I let you go anyway, because I hope these small freedoms will be enough. And I hope that someday, if you are lucky enough to have a precious girl of your own, that you will start to understand. Right now, I guess you can keep on being mad and hiding in your room if you want. Sooner or later, you'll want to eat.