WARNING: this content deals with the subject of harm and potential harm to children – while not graphic, I just wanted you to be aware.
I worry constantly about my 4yr old twins. They’re like small, cute, friendly, chattering squirrels.
And no matter how much I role-play and drill them about “stranger danger” or even potential danger from someone they might know, they still cozy up to every stranger we meet.
This is why I generally don’t let them out of my sight outside of school hours, and the list of people I trust their little lives and safety to is a Very. Short. List. And even then, I make sure it’s for as short a time as possible.
And I’m sure you’ve read the recent news reports: a politician molests the sleeping slumber-party guests of his elementary-school age daughter, a Texas father having to repeatedly put the smack-down on the filth molesting his 4-yr-old daugher to rescue her when the piece of garbage just won’t stop – resulting in the creep’s death,
the recent Dateline report that showed that even a police officer’s own child was susceptible to the blandishments of child-luring.
We try and try, and tell them over and over again. We practice scenarios, we role-play, we repeat ad nauseum.
But do I have any faith that that would be enough in the face of someone pretending to be nice and offering candy to my kids in the hopes of luring them off?
Because no matter how well you prepare them, they are still very young, and anything resembling impulse control is practically non-existant.
Let me make this very clear: Small children primarily act on their Lizard Brain instinct.
Desire pops up and they’ve gone chasing it faster than you can say ‘Don’t get into cars with strangers offering candy!’ or ‘Don’t go into the street after a ball!’
You cannot depend that if it ever (God forbid!) comes down to crunch time, that your little sweetie will have the emotional and mental wherewithal to remember the lessons you’ve drilled into their head, let alone the gumption to stand up to whatever emotional pressure some creep is putting on your child to get them to go along with whatever horrible crap they’ve thought up.
I’m sorry to be so negative about this, to rain on your parade, but let me tell you a little (true) story:
Waaaay back when, Little Lara (me), age 6, gets out of school for the day. Her friend – let’s call her ‘Sophie’ – says “I’ve got a great idea! How about you come home with me today and we’ll play at my house!”
Little Lara thinks this is nifty and follows Sophie home (this was in the dinosaur days when little kids walked to and from school even at such young ages – but it could just as easily have been Lara’s own backyard the kids wandered away from).
After a couple of hours playing, Sophie’s mom sticks her head out, tells Sophie it’s time to come in and that her little friend has to go home.
So off wanders Little Lara obediently, with no idea how to actually get home, and compounding this problem – she’s very navigationally challenged on a good day! (I still am, actually!)
By this time, Little Lara’s mom has gone beyond insane with worry, and has notified the police and gotten the neighborhood somewhat organized into search parties.
They eventually find the child in an abandoned construction site – luckily alive and unmolested.
Little Lara did not stop and think that her mom should be notified BEFORE she goes home with her friend. She did not think of mentioning to Sophie’s mom that A) she did not have her mom’s permission to be there, and B) she had no idea of how to get home, and C) It never occured to Sophie’s mom that the small child her daughter was playing with WASN’T from their neighborhood and didn’t have permission to be there.
Everyone just sorta ‘went with the flow’. You can’t assume that other ‘responsible’ adults around will catch things that ‘slip thru the cracks’.
Kids just don’t think. And not all situations are cut-and-dried, with some obviously sinister stranger practically advertising his/her intentions, menacing your child.
These days perpetrators – whether strangers or someone known to the child – work to make an environment that the child feels comfortable with and lulls the child into complacency.
Here’s another true story:
Little Lara (my, she had an exciting childhood!) age 4, gets on the schoolbus after Pre-K. The bus takes off, but doesn’t actually stop to let any kids off. Instead, Ernie the bus driver goes off on a joyride with about 10 small children riding shotgun.
He even stops to buy them all candy, which they happily eat – never thinking that it might be poisoned (relax, it wasn’t – luckily!), not questioning that they weren’t being taken home. Nope, they were all singing “The Wheels On The Bus” and otherwise having a very fun time with their new buddy Ernie.
And when, at last after several hours, he returns the bus to the school – and gets taken away by the police – every one of those children were quite bewildered at their parents’ hysterics. (It turned out that Ernie had been mentally ill and later committed homicide.)
Point is: a situation that may give any right-minded parent the heebie-jeebies from hell, may seem to be ‘situation normal’ to a small child – no matter how informed that child may have been by conscientious parents!
So please don’t take it for granted that your child’s safety awareness under controlled circumstances may translate to the same level under (God forbid!) actual field conditions.
One of the more frequent questions I get asked by other mamas is: “If you had to do it all over again, what would you have done differently?” in regards to my parenting choices since my twins were born.
I had a twin pregnancy that lasted 39 weeks after conceiving thru In Vitro (3rd and final attempt). Sometime in the second trimester, everytime I stood up for any length of time, I started feeling little contractions, so I tried to not stand up too much. This meant that I had LOTS of time on my hands with which to overworry myself.
For me, this meant RESEARCH – and lots of it! Thanks to the modern miracle of technology, we can now oversaturate ourselves with info thru the internet – almost like being hooked up to an information IV line.
One of the things I had no idea was so difficult was cloth diapers. From my research I knew they were the best for my babies, but when you’re actually confronted with a wildly flailing baby, you’ve got to get the cover off, remove the snappis, get the cloth diaper off, wipe down and then do everything in reverse, and even if you’ve pre-folded, with the baby wiggling so much, you end up re-folding again anyway, well it sure makes the disposable option of rip it off, wipedown, slap on another one, seem mighty attractive.
Then there was the disposal – we only had pickups once a week, so we stashed the diaper bucket (and no odor-eater is THAT good!) in our second bathroom, where it started hatching creepy critters galore. We were only given a VERY permeable cloth sack to store them in, so we were mucho grateful when the diaper service started using large plastic bins!
My husband had worried that someone might steal the (dirty) diapers from our doorstep while they waited for pickup. I reassured him that unless the thieves were absolute fools who were olfactorilly challenged and mistook DIApers for DIAmonds, then he had nothing to worry about!
This went on for nearly a year. By that time, we were desperately exhausted and clawing madly for ways to make things easier on ourselves. So we decided to scrap the cloth diapers and use Seventh Generation diapers and wipes, instead.
The absolute disdain and contempt heaped upon us by the diaper service people was almost palpable, but they didn’t have twinfants, we did! So we sucked it up, held our heads high and handed over the last batch of dirties with a smile and a thank-you.
After that, the Seventh Gen diapers were SOOOOO easy!
So, long story short – if I had to do it over again, I’d use Seventh Generation diapers and wipes from the get-go. You can get them from Amazon.com with their Moms Club at 15% off, combined with the subscribe and save plan (which is free and you can cancel at any time, and get free shipping too) for another 15% off, for a total savings of 30% off!
38 years later, I still remember the cake my mother made for me for my 5th birthday! It had two tiers, was covered in pink marshmallow icing, with little marshmallow bunnies cavorting on top. I marched my friends through our kitchen to gawk at it when it was done, and I was so proud that I had a mom who could make something like that, instead of the store-bought cakes my friends got for their birthdays! My friends were pretty envious of my having a mom like that, too. 🙂