What's your biggest fear as a parent?
The Blue Jay likes to walk. And walk. And walk. Particularly if she is annoyed at her mom for taking away both the computer and phone after she has been on both simultaneously for a mere .... three hours. So off she went. Usually she will tell me what direction she wants to go in and I will tell her how far she can go before she has to come home. But tonight she was determined to go in both directions. So I told her she could go one way but had to check in on her way back. Which she did. But when she came home from the second leg of the walk, all was not right with the world.
She was a bit frazzled and excited. Just not herself. "Whew! That was close!" When I asked her what was wrong, she told me about a car going by twice and honking. And then stopping in the church parking lot to talk to her. That the man asked her to go for a drive with him and be friends and she said "NO! You're a stranger!" and walked straight home.
Thank you, Lord.
Now I will admit that at first I wasn't sure what to think. It's the Blue Jay, you see. Which means that although she's a teenager, she isn't really. And although I didn't for one second think that she was making this up (she walks a lot and has never came home with such a story), I had to wonder if she had just misunderstood something. Was it a friend of her father's but she just hadn't recognized him? Or was this the real thing?
So I asked her a few more questions, trying to be careful not to ask anything leading. Although she's not as bad as she use to be when she was younger, she's still quite suggestible. When she was little if you asked her completely out of the blue if her knee hurt, for example, she would say yes. For the simple reason that you suggested it.
Perplexed, I told her to go tell her dad. Which she did, with a few more details. Blue car, man with a grey beard. He and I discussed it for a few minutes and eventually I phoned the police. But I still had trouble believing it was for real. That she wasn't somehow mistaken. We live in a village sandwiched between two towns in a rural area. And although there were 'incidents' a few years ago locally (someone in the Mall exposing themselves and asking a young boy to go with them), I certainly never expected to hear such a thing from one of my own children.
Anyway, an officer called us back and I explained the situation. He had me ask her a few questions about the vehicle and before telling me that he would check out the area and call me back, he advised me that they certainly had had other reports before and there were some 'sickos' out there. "Don't disbelieve your daughter". Meanwhile the Blue Jay had picked up some of my conversation with her dad and had been demanding that I 'call the cops' as this was serious. So I had to calm her down, tell her she did a great job and did the right thing and now the grown-ups would handle it and it wasn't her problem.
But in talking with her carefully a little bit more (asking her if she told the man her name, yes, he had asked so she told him her full name) and getting some more details of what he said (He said he wasn't that strange), I started to believe that it was the real thing. Although at first I thought maybe it was someone who knew her but she just didn't recognize, I remembered that this kid has a great memory for faces and knows more people than I do. She would have recognized someone if she had met them before. And someone who actually knew her wouldn't ask her to come for a drive with them when she was only thirty feet from home.
Only a few days ago I posted a comment on another blog about how hard it is to teach your child 'stranger danger' when you can't make them understand what a 'stranger' is. I have always secretly wondered and worried what the Blue Jay would do if faced with a situation. And prayed that if she was ever faced with it she would be with her sister or somebody else who would know what to do.
A little later, we had a visit from an officer who spoke with the Blue Jay and asked her some questions. During which she showed off some of her 'uniqueness'. And while he was here the first officer called back to see if she had told us any more details about the vehicle. But eventually all settled down and we got the kids off to bed.
And as happy, pleased, relieved and grateful I am that the Blue Jay knew what to do and actually did it, let me tell you this. When I hugged my two girls goodnight tonight, I was hit so hard in my gut. With fear. And anger. Just let one person ever lay a finger on either one of those kids ...
There will be HELL to pay. That's all.