Being a parent is terrifying. It is also amazing, rewarding and the best thing ever. But really, it is terrifying. It is scary and stressful and... hard.
This morning I had read that the 10 year old little girl Hailey Owens, who there was an Amber Alert issued for yesterday evening, was found dead. She was kidnapped just blocks from her home, walking home from a friends house. We all know these things happen, but this story was a harsh reminder that it is real and it can happen to anyone, anywhere. Even our children. Even mine.
A couple of weeks ago my older 3 boys (11.5, 9 and 8) were across the street at the park. I looked out and saw my 8 year old chatting it up with an older man. I hurried out there to make sure there was nothing shady going on. The man was harmless, he was there with his grandson. But what if he wasn't harmless? I had a sick feeling realizing that my 8 year old is still so innocent. He didn't think twice about telling this man his name, his birthday, about his siblings etc. The older 2 boys were there close by (I tell them that they must stay together), but didn't try to interfere with the conversation. That was a slap right in the face of reality for me. I have talked to my children before about being careful with strangers. But I obviously had not talked to them enough.
After reading this story about this little girl, I called the older boys into my room to have a talk with them. I told them about her. I talked to them about how to be safe. What to do in different situations. We just talked about all of it. I told them that I don't want them to live with fear, but that I just want them to be aware and use some caution. For me, it has always been important not to shelter my children from reality, even the harsh things. I do not shove it in their face, but I try to give them just enough exposure so they are not sheltered.
We all need to do this. You... you need to do this. Have another talk with your kids. They need to be reminded. I know my 8 year old sure did.