May 3, 2010
When my girls were 5- and 3-years-old, the first big publicity kidnapping occurred in our metropolitan area. A young boy was taken from a 7-11 as he was standing by the candy dispensers in the doorway. I remember being glued to the news coverage and absolutely petrified. I think that was the very first time I realized that outside influences could harm my children, something that I didn't directly cause - you know, like dropping them on their heads as babies.
We lived in a semi-rural part of town and my kindergartener rode a school bus for her half-day of school. I was fortunate at that time to be able to be a homemaker stay-at-home-mom. When the 5-year-old got home from school that day, I sat them down and had a talk with them. "Stranger Danger" was the term used back then.
I told them about never getting in a car with a stranger, never going to look at a puppy or take candy or talk to anyone you don't know. How it's okay to scream and run if you're scared. I told them a little about the missing boy and the circumstances of his kidnapping and how sad I would be if anything like that ever happened to them. I'm pretty sure I said way too much with way too much emotion but I wanted to make sure I got my point across.
So the next morning after OD rides off in the school bus, YD and I came back in the house, I locked the screen door but left the interior door open. It was a nice day and the sun streaming in was really enjoyable. I came walking down the hallway from the bedrooms with a laundry basket and as I rounded the corner toward the laundry room, I saw YD standing pressed up against the screen door, turning her head back and forth, looking up and down the street.
I'll never forget how cute she looked standing there. She had on corduroy pants (or whistle britches as my Dad calls them), a little pinafore style shirt and her brown hair was in two long braids hanging over her shoulders.
I asked her, "What are you doing?"
She replied in a very quiet voice, "Where are they?"
"Where are they?"
Now I put the basket down and walked over to her. "Where are who?"
She said all this in a whisper. I had literally scared the holy hell right out of this poor kid and she was fearfully watching the street, waiting for the Strangers to come and get her. I don't think she had any nightmares from this, but I will tell you that she has a door locking compulsion like you've never seen.
When she lived at home, she drove Hubby nuts. He'd go outside to get the mail or put the trash cans out and when he came back just a few seconds later, the door would be dead bolted. Even worse, she had usually wandered off and he had to pound on the door to get anyone's attention to let him back in.
We laugh about this now, but she swears she needs therapy for this and that I have not only scared, but scarred her for life!