I don’t want to write this post
but as a mom with a blog about being a mom, I have to. I don’t want to think about it. I definitely do not want to consider more than the outside chance that plagues my mommy brain on a daily basis, the category of horrible things that could happen to my children. But when it happens (and it happens every day, and with a little research I could probably found out how many times per hour) we are forced to consider the reality, not just the fear of something happening to our children.
My brain can’t process it.
This story is personal on a parental level, hell, on a human level. There is a population of parents that feels and thinks and fears this story. Certainly no more poignant than other abductions and murders of innocents, but one that for some reason, caught our collective attention and snapped us from our state of denial. Something was taken from us, as occurs from time to time.
Every so often we lose the privilege of hiding our heads in the sand, that this can’t happen to us- even after near misses. Perhaps nothing actually threatening, but where we have to consider how badly things could have ended up if a nice person hadn’t been the one to find or assist our child. I’ve begun to dismiss the Amber alerts that startle my phone with information on a child abduction. It usually ends up the baby daddy took him or her on their non court-appointed day, rather than an actual abduction that requires I take off the blinders that keep me from being paralyzed by what is capable of occurring out there.
It raises difficult questions.
Questions we don’t know how to answer. How do you teach your child to trust adults, but not all adults and only in certain situations and only if they behave a certain way? How do you to tell them to be polite and say hello when a kind stranger smiles at them as you push them down the isle in the store? We’re mortified if they offer a raspberry in response to the compliments at how cute they are. How do you teach them to not be afraid of the world, but to know the dangers of it? How do you protect their innocence without shattering it? These questions are rhetorical. I don’t think anyone has the answer, because the answers don’t exist. They simply do not.
We tell our kids there is no monster under the bed or in the closet, but there are real monsters. They walk among us, unidentifiable by claws and fangs, but disguised as ordinary citizens. We must somehow balance between preparing them for the possibility of monsters, and not letting the monsters rule our lives with fear and terror.
This is something for which you cannot plan.
As someone who trains in martial arts and self-defense, I am constantly thinking about self-protection, not just how to perform it in case of attack, but how to avoid attacks in the first place. I have a plan for my kids as far as raising them to be aware and alert, not merely of stranger danger, but the much more sinister culprit- that person you know. At some point we have to consider that all of our planning, educating and prevention may not be enough and there’s nothing we can do. That’s what scares the shit out of us. Yes, I have to use that phrase because that it is how it feels as a parent. There is simply no more real way to put it.
We can prescribe dialogue and awareness, but ultimately we have to believe that the world will harm our children only a little at a time, in manageable doses. In the event of a great catastrophe, a great trauma, how do we cope? Isn’t that what we’re asking ourselves? Isn’t that why we’re sharing the story on Facebook and why I’m writing this post? Isn’t that why we’re turning on our porch lights?
Turning on the porch light might seem naïve.
Leaving our porch light on is how we can banish the darkness and illuminate, for the world to see, we are not afraid of the dark- we are brighter than the dark. It shows the other monsters out there, hiding in plain site, that there are more of us than there are of them. We will shine for that little girl’s parents while their light flickers. We will keep the dark at bay for them.