Monday, October 15, 2012

My October Tale of Terror


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.
  • If she stops talking or singing or humming, even when she is alone in a room, something is wrong. This is how she's given herself away her whole life.



I am in one of the aisles, picking out the big gourds and pumpkins. I send daughter out of the aisle, around the backside to fill a shopping basket with gourds - 10 for $1! She's on it! We're chatting back and forth...well, mainly she was chatting about 'this' and 'that' and 'remember that time?', and 'why did God make spiders?'...etc, etc...I am preoccupied with visions of orange and yellow pumpkins dancing in my head.

Minutes? Seconds? A half second? I realize there is NO sound. I call her name. No answer. I briskly walk to the end of the aisle and yell her name again. No answer. I am concerned and walk a few feet through the displays and spot her very far from her designated task. I am annoyed. Hands on hips, "what are you doing?" Her eyes dart to a man and a woman nearby, that only in hindsight had the look of deer in headlights. They quickly leave and get in their car, without pumpkins. At the moment though, I am just annoyed because Daughter did not answer me when I called her.

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.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for finding the courage to share this story. We do live in scary times. After a while we put our guard down and we need reminders to build it back up.

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    1. Yes, I agree about letting our guard down! It only took that one reminder for me....

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  2. What a dreadful memory, but as you have already stated luckily that farmer just happen to be at the right place, at the right moment. You can't live in the should of could of. Stay strong and thank you for sharing. I agree with the momma bear. My husband complains about it all the time, but I don't care.. My role in life is to protect my two darlings and I don't care how other perceive it.

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  3. That's an awful situation to be in, but thank goodness, it didn't turn into a nightmare. I don't think we can ever warn our children often enough about the dangers that they could potentially encounter. Everyday it seems as if there is some child that goes missing or is injured. Thank you for your sharing your story. If it helps just one child, that will have been worth it.

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    1. Yes, it was awful and I'm thankful that I just walked away learning a lesson! Never did I think such a thing would happen with me on 'the watch', but it really could happen to anyone. Now, I watch other people's children too!

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