Saturday, July 16, 2011

I wouldn't do that...

Very rarely do I comment on the news in this space.  But I have something to say about the tragic events in New York this week.  I have an 8 year old Jewish boy.  I guess I feel for the parents. 

I let my kids walk home from school by themselves.  I let them go to the drugstore to get candy by themselves.  I let them ride their bikes around the block alone.  My kids are outside, alone.  Even the 5 year old.  You might think I am a bad parent.  That is your choice.  I am trying to teach my kids to be smart and make good choices, to be confident in their abilities to navigate the world without me.  I hope and pray that they are alright when they do this.

The reality is that something could happen to them.  Someone could snatch my kids while they are playing in front of my house.  I think the odds of that happening are low, but it could happen.  If that does happen, is the entire world going to say to me:  "Well, I wouldn't let my 8 year old do that.  I would make the sacrifices necessary to keep him/her safe.  I would protect my child."  (not sure where the question mark goes here.. but it is a question.)

It pisses me off to no end to hear people say that they would keep their child safe.  Hello folks, not possible.  You can put your kid in a bubble, latch them to your body, and they are still not safe.  The world is not a safe place.  Period.  That is the way that it is.

It is not fair to the family to play Monday morning quarterback and tell them what they should have done.  My Dad was famous for telling people, don't you should on me.  Let's not should on strangers in their moment of horror.

I feel like I can say with 100% certainty that the parents in this situation would not have let him walk home if they believed that it was really unsafe.  He clearly felt confident and comfortable enough to ask for help.  To bad he picked a guy on a psychotic break.  But, what happened was just an unfortunate situation, it was not because his parents were negligent in anyway.  I am sure that they will be burdened with the guilt of "if only" for the rest of their lives.  We don't need to help with that.

I realize we say, I would not do that, to comfort ourselves.  To make us feel like this couldn't happen to us.  Reality check here, it could happen to you.  That could have been you.  This is not to say that we should lock our children in the house.  So, in the honor of that poor boy, lets remind our kids about strangers.  Take an extra second to make sure that they have the information that the need, and then send them out in the world.  Perhaps add an extra hug in there.  But still send them out in the world.  Chances are they will be OK and come back stronger, better and more able.

Interesting statistic, there are not more child abductions than there were when we were kids.  We just know more about them.  Don't let fear keep you from letting your kids live their lives.  Don't let this freak situation make you scared and by the transitive property, your children scared of the world.  Teach them how to navigate through the world.

Be careful out there.  Isn't that what they said at the end of CHiPs?  Or as the fire fighters say, be safe, be prepared and have a plan.

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