Thursday, June 02, 2011

Just like that.

Yesterday my friend and I were talking about the child left alone in the car incident. From there, we went to abductions and missing children statistics. The problem with being a parent, we agreed, is walking that line between protecting your child and teaching them to be independent. Dangers, known and unknown, are everywhere. There are predators all over the place. And yet, we have to teach our children to live in the world - they should be able to walk to school by a certain age, or walk to the corner store with their friends by a certain age. Exactly what age, obviously, depends on circumstances.

Yesterday, while my friend and I were talking about this, a man came out of the bushes at an elementary school less than three blocks from my house, and directly across the parking lot from the RCMP station. He approached a girl who was on the edges of the field and had wandered from the rest of her class. He grabbed her, tried to take her with him. She fought him off, screaming, and got away.

Police were called, dogs were brought, but it had begun to rain and there was no trace of the man.

Yesterday, while the dogs were trying to pick up a scent, I was having coffee with my friend. We were rolling our eyes, half-laughing, and saying "What a world! I sometimes wish I hadn't even had kids - they've got such a tough job of growing up, that's IF we can get them there alive."

Yesterday we joked nervously about it, while not truly believing it would ever happen.

But yesterday it nearly did.

Today, somewhere in my neighbourhood, a mother still has her daughter.

She nearly didn't.

Tonight, somewhere in this town, a little girl is going to bed in her own room, with the door ajar and the hallway light on. Her parents are staying up in the living room so she can go to sleep to sounds of safety.

How tonight could have been different for her, I don't want to think about.

Today, it's not an abstract anymore. Today, it's a buzz of fearful conversation over fences, new bonds formed between neighbours as we talk about walking each other's children to and from school. Today, it's a pit in my stomach: nauseated horror.

Yesterday we were speculating on what could possibly happen.

Today we know that, among us, someone else has thought of it. Someone decided to do it. Someone nearly succeeded, right here in this small town in broad daylight and within earshot of police.

In one day - in one minute - everything can change. Everything nearly changed for that girl, for her family.

And I know that living in fear is bad for people. It's bad for me, it's bad for my children.

We can tell ourselves it couldn't happen here, that the chances are a million to one against it happening.

I don't care if it hardly ever happens - even once is too many times.

It's not worth the risk.


Dave Hingsburger said...

It can happen in a moment. That child's parents need to be congratulated ... she had the power, the will, and the confidence to fight back - that comes, I beleive from parenting that 'gives permission' to be disagreeable, to be aggressive, to be powerful. Where we once parented meekness into girls, we are now parenting mightiness. I'm applauding, loud.

I hope that in this you find some validation for the stance you took to be vigilant with the child in the car ... even though others would disagree (the others who wouldn't have done what you did) ... I hope that this steels your resolve, as it should with all of us, to be watchful and careful.

kristieinbc said...

This kind of thing makes you want to hug your kids and NEVER let go.

kristieinbc said...

This kind of thing makes you want to hug your kids and NEVER let go.

kate said...

Heard this at school yesterday. Ugh.

Jo said...

Something similar happened to me in gr. 8, walking home from school. I screamed so loud people driving by in cars stopped and ran into the woods where the attacker had dragged me. And people wonder why I am terrified of letting Willow (at almost 9) play outside without me watching her.

Annalea said...


I second, wholeheartedly, what Dave said. I've been thinking lately about how growing up the second generation into women's lib altered my life. Watching The North Avenue Irregulars (funny, cute, clean, and SO 60's-70's!) brought it clearly into view. With force. So many of us take the things we're able to do for granted . . . but it wasn't that long ago that men were calling us "ding-a-ling dames" like the federal agent in that movie.

Dave gave us some powerful language: parenting mightiness into girls. And I'm going to do just that.

This post also reminds me that we need to teach our children (not just the girls) a healthy sense of outrage at the thought of anyone trying to abduct or take advantage of them. Our children need to understand how not to be victims. It's so easy to freeze up in a scary situation (I'd rather not talk about how I know); we need to make sure our children know how to take control of that possibility. To own their response, and to throw themselves into it completely.

I'm glad you and your neighbors are going to walk the children to school . . . that would be good for everyone.

Dave Hingsburger said...

you know what, YOU KNOW WHAT? We just talked to Mike on the phone and he and his family including Ruby, nearly 5 and Sadie, nearly 2, went to one of those fairs that set up in parking lots. It's just behind Ruby's school and she was excited to go. That night a little girl, 7, was abducted from in front of the ferris wheel. Police are convinced that someone saw something and did NOTHING. I think people do nothing because when they do something, like you did, they get shit dumped on them. I was so upset after hearing that those two kids I love were in the same area as some preditor that I had trouble calming down. I like to think they are safe, well they are only safe if those adults who would never hurt are never silent either.