Tag Archives: Santa Rosa

Even pretend weapons can be dangerous

I have a 12-year-old son who is a 7th grader this year. Like most 7th grade boys, my son’s actions don’t necessarily involve a lot of thought. Just this week alone, he decided that buying and consuming a Monster energy drink right before bed was a good idea, skipping his chores and lying about them being done was perfectly acceptable, yelling at his stepdad would have no repercussions, and leaving the house and not coming back until after 8 p.m. (with no cell phone or note) was okay.

And in the past month or so, he has also pointed his fingers at other cars while I’ve been driving, pretending to shoot at them.

replica gunYesterday, our county was rocked by the news that a 13-year-old boy was shot and killed by the police in a southwest Santa Rosa neighborhood. The first reports spoke of a man carrying assault weapons who was shot down. But the developing story evolved, and it became clear that no would-be murderer was killed – it was just a boy, carrying “toy” guns, or rather, replicas of real guns.

I can’t comment on who is at fault in this situation. There just isn’t enough information yet about what went down in the time when this kid was spotted, and when he was fired upon. But I do know that nerves are rattled at the recent news of a boy the same age who brought a gun to his Nevada school, injuring two students and killing a teacher before turning the gun on himself. I know that there are news stories all over the nation of kids who are capable of heinous crimes. And I know that a boy around the age of 13 would think nothing of carrying around a toy gun that looked exactly like the real thing – because they’d WANT it to look like the real thing.

This morning, I sat down with my son and told him about this 13-year-old boy’s death and his family’s tragedy. I took the opportunity to discuss how there is nothing funny about pretend violence – how it can actually lead to something tragic like this. And I laid out some firm guidelines for him:

– Never go out in public carrying anything that might look like a real weapon. Nerf guns are one thing – their bright colors and odd shape makes them apparent they’re just a toy. But anything that is supposed to look real can be mistaken for the real thing, and could get you injured or killed.

– Never point your fingers at anyone else to look like a gun. You don’t know who you’re pointing at, and it could have the real thing pointed back at you in return.

– Always, ALWAYS respect the law and those employed to enforce it.

This boy’s death is a tragedy for his family, and for our community. There are no words to describe the sorrow I feel for everyone involved in this devastating event. Yes, there was a time when a kid wouldn’t get shot for carrying something that is only meant to look like a weapon. But times have changed. Even “just playing around” can be deemed unsafe.

I urge all parents to take a moment and speak with your kids about the importance of weapon safety – even if that “weapon” is just pretend.

Goodbye Bennett Valley

The latest rage in books, 50 Shades of Gray (or is it ‘Grey’?), was typed out using a Blackberry. While this post will be slightly less blush-worthy, I am not in front of my computer. So this post will be completely typed out using my iPhone. 

Today was the Taz’ last day of school. The milestone of finishing 5th grade was huge, since this has been a pretty tough year. I’ve come to cringe when I open my email, half expecting a ‘love note’ from his teacher once again detailing another way my kid has screwed up. He was getting in trouble for everything, from bouncing a ball in line to doing a 360 before throwing a ball. The latest incident was when the kids were all given splash balls to fill with water and throw at each other on a hot day. According to the teacher, the activity was meant to be ‘fun and engaging’. So the teacher couldn’t understand when Taz and his friends got out of hand in their pummeling activity. 

Let’s see. Splash balls + rowdy boys. And the equation is supposed to equal ‘fun and engaging’? It was almost like they were setting the boys up for failure. 

This was the bow on a particularly hard year. And yet, last night I actually burst into tears as I realized today would be our very last day in attending a school district we’d all grown up into. 

All week long I’ve been on edge. I thought I was just stressed out and possibly heading into my hormonal time. Could be all three, which meant Mr. W was basically screwed. I nitpicked him for days, and he graciously let it slide off. But it eventually got to be too much, and he asked what was up. I rattled off the looming baseball schedule, the many deadlines at work, my lack of time for personal projects, the stress from planning a wedding, my social life going down the tubes, and the litany of money requirements right now – just to name a few. It was so rich, you could almost hear the violins. And then school came up, and I mentioned this was the last day ever for the Bennett Valley district.

And then the tears. 

There are so many factors that go along with why this is so bittersweet. First there’s the friends we’ve made over the years. Sure, we only live 20 minutes away. But when it’s hard enough to get together while we’re conveniently in the same district, I can only imagine how it will be when we’re immersed in Petaluma schools. I’m afraid for Taz and how he’ll make friends at his new school. Will he be miserable? Will this shatter his already fragile self image? How about his new baseball league, how will that go? 

But most of all, it’s the end of an era. Our whole life was in Santa Rosa. It’s where we were all born, where we grew up, where we went to school. When DQ switched over, I wasn’t as affected since Taz was still there. I had my little commute buddy every morning and afternoon. This was time I had to visit with him, and when we’d get uninterrupted talk time. Now we won’t have that specific time. And this is the very last part of leaving behind our family-of-three life in Santa Rosa. 

It’s just a little sad, as silly as it seems. 

Of course, it’s not like it’s all bad or anything. Taz’ new school is a bike ride away. Now he’ll have a chance to make friends in our neighborhood. We’re leaving behind a school of ridiculous rules. And I no longer need to leave early to get him to and from school. The wedding is getting closer and closer, and I can’t wait to be married to Mr. W! And I really do love living in Petaluma so much, even more than Santa Rosa.

As I dropped Taz off at school this morning, I passed by the friendly crossing guard who waves at everyone each morning. 

“Have a great vacation!” he called to me in his thick accent. I rolled my window down and grinned as I wished him a wonderful summer. “I swear I could kiss you,” he laughed. And the statement was so ridiculous and out of the blue, but the perfect goodbye from the whole Bennett Valley experience, that I put my hand to my lips and blew him a kiss goodbye.  

Goodbye Bennett Valley. It’s been real. 

Creek Week 2011

Get out your waders and your tadpole catchers, we’re coming up on Creek Week! All through the Russian River and Santa Rosa Creek areas will be educational and adventurous events that celebrate our local waterways and offer ways to restore the creeks and enhance the habitat of our fish and wildlife.

The week kicks off with the 27th Annual Sonoma County Coast and Creek Clean Up. On Saturday, September 17th, volunteers will meet at Doyle Park at the Doyle Park Drive entrance at 9am, and work towards cleaning up debris and trash until noon. Gloves, tools, and snacks will be provided. (For more beach clean ups, contact Coastwalk at 829-6689). Contact: Alistair Bleifuss at 543-3845 or ableifuss@ci.santa-rosa.ca.us.

Also on Saturday, Santa Rosa Creek will be host to the Whitewater Rodeo from 10:30am – noon. The whole family is invited out to race homebuilt toy boats down the raging shallow waters of the creek. Bring your own creation, or create a boat on the spot with materials (and assistance!) that will be available to the public. During the event, Boy Scouts and lifeguards will be demonstrating water safety skills. Meet up at the Pierson St bridge (between w. 3rd St. And W. 6th St.).Contact: Alistair Bleifuss at 543-3845 or ableifuss@ci.santa-rosa.ca.us.

Sunday, September 18th will be a 10-mile hike to explore the headwaters of Santa Rosa Creek. Hike through Hood Mountain Regional Park and Sugarloaf State Park, peruse the steelhead trout spawning grounds in the upper creek areas, dip your feet in the creek, and enjoy your picnic lunch under the largest coast live oak in Sonoma County – the “Grandmother Oak” tree. Hike goes from 9:10am – 4pm. For location, please register at http://www.landpaths.org, email outings@LandPaths.org, or call 524-9318.

Monday, September 19th will be an exciting Downtown Underground exploration of the culverts and fish ladders below downtown Santa Rosa. Flashlights and sturdy shoes will be required for this interesting look at our city from underneath, and is not recommended for kids under age 10. But be prepared to get a brand new perspective of our town and its waterway. Meet at Gateway Park at Santa Rosa Ave and Sonoma Ave at 6pm, and hike till 7:30pm.Contact: Jill Scott at 543-4246 or jscott@srcity.org.

More exciting than the Tour de France, the Tour de Santa Rosa Creek will be underway on Tuesday, September 20th from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Families and individuals are welcome to join in on the 12-mile round-trip bike ride on the flat and paved path alongside the creek trail between Olive Park Footbridge (1698 Hazel St) and Willowside Road. Contact: Sean McNeil at 543-4225 or smcneil@srcity.org.

Finish the week with a clean up of Sierra Park Creek on Bennett Valley Clean Up Day. Saturday, September 24th, volunteers will meet up at Strawberry School (2311 Horseshoe Dr) at 9am and join neighbors, scouts, and Strawberry School in caring for this creek area until 11am. Contact: Alistair Bleifuss at 543-3845 or ableifuss@ci.santa-rosa.ca.us.

More exciting events throughout the week:

“Turtle Talk” with Dr. Nick Geist on Sunday, September 18th from 3-4pm.
“Santa Rosa Creek Family Insect Exploration” on Sunday, September 18th, 4-5-ish pm.
“Santa Rosa Creek Trail Walk” for ages 8 and up on Wednesday, September 21st from 5:30-7:30pm.
“Are there fish in Santa Rosa Creek?” on Thursday, September 22nd, 5:30-7:30pm.

For a full listing of all the fun events and activities going on throughout the week, visit srcity.org/creekweek.