Renee's sights were firmly on social and material ascendance. Her secret dream was to live in a house in the hills and look down at the flat land of west Berkeley where she was born. She wanted to give dinner parties to cultured and sophisticated guests. Although well read and familiar with the classics of literature from college, the work of writing was never as important as the achievement of the lifestyle. While Rex was applying self discipline at developing his career, Renee was developing her connections to improve her social standing and cultivating her obsessions with mysticism and the occult. More than anything, she wanted that house in the hills with a school her children could walk to easily.
Her interests were of such central importance that her three and a half year old son was often playing unattended in the front yard of the apartment building, on a busy street with a bus line near the university. In October of 1951 he was hit by a car while running from between parked cars on busy Euclid Avenue with the intention of playing on a lawn across the street. Renee was philosophical about the accident, saying that she knew he couldn't really be hurt since he cried so loudly. Margaret commented "he was always crying anyway" she hadn't paid much notice since. After the accident he was instructed to not cross the street unattended.
Rex was horrified, felt guilty and began to keep his son more often in his studio, using him as a model.