There really is no need to panic and lock your children in the basement just yet. It seems that these have been isolated incidents which occurred pretty far away from each other and, thankfully, no-one was actually taken because the girls were able to get away. Truthfully, we don’t need stories like Penn State and this one to remind us that the sad reality is, whether it’s on the news or not, we have to teach our kids to be careful. The boogie man is, very unfortunately, real.
But we also have to teach them to live and laugh and enjoy.
So, how do you effectively scare the hell out of your kids so that they are watchful, but also insist that they relax enough to not need anxiety pills every time they step out of the front door? Welcome to the hard-core world of parenting where that kind of balance simply does not exist.
For example, yesterday Flower had a friend over. They wanted to go to the playground. They are old enough to go to the playground. They should be outside in the fresh air rather than sunk in a couch simultaneously texting (probably each other) and playing the Wii.
So, in attempt to master that impossible balance, I said to them, “Yes. You can go to the playground. But, girls, stay together. Come back when it’s dark. It’s not enough to have your phone, you must also answer it if I call you. And, if someone walks up to you with a picture of a puppy and asks you to get in the car to help him look for it – RUN!”
And then I added, “Oh yeah, now go have fun.”
We did seriously have a little chat about how unlikely it was that someone would warn them that they were about to be abducted and how much more likely it would be that they would be presented with a plausible, compelling reason to let their guard down. And how important it was that they not do that. It was really a light-hearted talk about being careful – we did laugh a little bit in between my bullet points. They walked out the door without trembling and had big smiles on their faces.
Surely that was balance achieved – wouldn’t you agree?
On their own, they decided not to go to the playground. There was someone there and they didn’t get a great vibe. So they opted to play in front of the house.
And then it happened.
A woman walked up to them and asked them if Flower and her friend had seen her little dog. It was already dark at this point and they could not make out her face.
No, I am not lying.
That is exactly what happened.
They looked at each other and looked at the woman. They were very quickly trying to figure out what to do. Clearly they had been paying attention to my presentation. But they didn’t recognize her and they didn’t run. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn’t in a car that threw them off. Or maybe it was that she didn’t have an actual picture in her hands. AURGH.
The woman must have sensed that they were a little spooked so, as she walked closer, she put the flashlight on her face. Flower realized it was a neighbor from our street.
They were freaked out. Flower’s friend thought I might be a witch capable of seeing into the future. (Which is clearly not the case, because I would have never let them out of my sight if I had a vision that a stranger in the dark asked them to help her find her dog.)
When the girls came inside they were at least giggling but still pretty nervous.
We all laughed about it. Okay, I pretended to laugh – I actually nearly threw up when they said a woman had really asked them to find her dog.
I am not sure I am cut out for this parenting nonsense. 😉