My family does not participate in what seems like the rest of the U.S. does on October 31st. It's hard to escape, but it's a our choice. However, I love fall. Fall colors, gourds, pumpkins, apple pie, everything that screams fall. When October comes around, all those thoughts fill my head. All those thoughts of autumn and the harvest, but as of the last few years, I have moments that absolute terror fills my heart in this otherwise lovely month. A terror that I've shared with few people, because of my guilt and shame. Here is my story with hopes that the moms and dads out there hear this horrific tale of terror and take head.....
My daughter is now a teenager, but just five years ago, she was still a little girl. During this very month....we drove by a small family owned farm in the middle of a beautiful autumn day. The front lawn was filled with pumpkins, squash, gourds, cornstalks and ornamental grasses of all colors and sizes. My car is programmed to stop at such places.
Daughter and I started making plans of centerpieces, displays, and art projects to use all these beautiful things in.
Let me paint the picture even more
- Family owned retail farm.
- The one and only employee is at the cash register inside a small building.
- Very close to the road.
- My car and one other in the parking lot.
- Risers (planks on concrete blocks) displaying all the fruits of the season tiered as high as my head in long narrow aisles.
- Long narrow aisles of these tiered planks and you can't see what's on the other side of them. Get the picture?
Let me paint the personality
- Daughter talks non-stop (still). I've always known where she is and have never been afraid to let her go more than arms length because I can hear her.
- She is my 'fetcher' in the stores, go get it and she does.
- She is pretty.
We finish our shopping, pay the cashier, and get in the car. The car is unusually silent and the mood is different. We are almost home. She is in the backseat, still too small to legally ride in the passenger seat. I glare at her in the rear view mirror. I ask 'why she didn't answer me when I called her?' and 'what was she doing anyway?' I finally notice the expression is not of the child that I know. "mommy, those people were trying to get me, and were making me walk further and further away". Can you HEAR the tires come to a screeching halt?!! Can you HEAR my heart pounding through my chest?!!
My head goes to instant mommy replay: they were corralling her toward the back of the building where there was no retail space, not letting her get back to me. I now realize I had heard the voice of the old farmer that owns the farm coming in from the field. He yelled "can I help you folks" in the direction of the two strangers. I realize it was his voice that was the voice that made me aware that all was silent the moment before. The couple had a look of deer in headlights because they were caught in the act of TRYING TO STEAL my daughter!
What on earth do I do now? Twenty minutes or more had passed. The people are long gone. Do I call the police just to tell the story? Please don't give me advice now. I know what I should have done. I have replayed this over and over in my head, and do so yearly. I was in shock. Woulda, coulda, shoulda....
We get home. I am thankful to God for this day. I am thankful that nothing truly bad happened. I am thankful for the lesson. I am thankful for the opportunity to talk to my daughter about what to do if she ever found herself in a situation like that again - realize these conversations are different at different stages of their childhood.
My husband comes home. I am still shaken at the thought of losing my only child. I recant the story to him, but got an unexpected reaction....he is FURIOUS! Furious with me. Oh, it was not a good night. I felt horrible.
Here are my lessons to pass on to other parents
- We live in very scary times.
- This could happen to anyone, anytime of day.
- Be a momma bear, no matter where you are even to the point of embarassing yourself.
- Make eye contact with strangers around you. Let them know that you know they're there.
- Be aware, even when you think your children are 'big enough' to let the leash out a little further.
- Children sometimes forget to scream in times of stress EVEN though you may have taught them about 'stranger danger' and what to do.
- Older children are also afraid to cause a scene or heaven forbid, embarrass themselves or others.
My guilt of how I handled this situation has kept me from telling this story until only recently. Let this story work for good. Pass it on to someone you think it could help. My story has a happy ending, let's prevent others from truly having horror stories of their own to tell.
This post shared at Raising Homemakers.