from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words.
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) May 23, 2017
Waking up after the Ariana Grande concert terror attack is every parent’s worst fear. A family is still looking for their Olivia – she is missing, not answering her phone and gone without a trace in the middle of a disastrous world. The news accounts are horrible. Children scattered away from parents in the midst of chaos – the fear and terror resonates in every parent. Maybe this was a first concert, a long awaited Christmas present, a graduation gift – so many situations but in the end all the same result – children dead. Gone. We live in a fast paced crumbling society where we are still parents and our main job is still to keep our kids safe without smothering them. But how? This is a question no generation before this has had to fully face or answer like ours.
Summer is coming. There will be huge fun events that are the fabric of childhood. Carnivals, fairs, festivals, concerts – the big things that are the memories we remember twenty years later. It’s a new age. Never before have parents had to even think that taking their kid to that parade could potentially place them in a prime terror attack situation. This is a world wide epidemic that is crushing our souls.
My son is almost eleven and wants to walk around Walmart alone. He wants to ride his bike to the park. At almost eleven, only 20 years ago, we walked or rode bikes around our small safe middle class world. But not today – no way. Facebook is bombarded with stories of monsters trying to lure children away from their parents in Walmart and Targets all over the country. It’s like you can’t even look away for a second but how are we as parents supposed to look at four places at once? Where there was once villages of support has been replaced by monsters lurking and waiting.
My son told me a story of how a classmate saw her neighbor overdosing while walking to school. How a thirteen-year-old at the park has been arrested for trying to steal a car and possession of heroine. Heroine is terrible – but twenty years ago heroine was just heroine. This week I had to sit in my car and explain to my almost 11-year old that the world has changed and drugs are mixed with terrible things today that literally can kill you even if you just touch the bag or permanently alter your mind, to never ever return, if you are foolish enough to experiment. Monsters among us purposefully seek to harm for profit or fun.
How do we juggle letting kids be kids in this hurricane of hell. Be brave, independent, fearless, take chances but watch for monsters and evil at every turn. Look around, be prepared, but stay with me in the store in case God forbid someone comes in shooting – in that moment I need you to be here with me. Trust that people are good but know that some are not. That drink, that experimental “fun” pill, that house, those intentions may not be good. My intentions are not to smother you. I want more than anything for you to grow up to be independent and well rounded. Safe. I do not want you to be afraid or have anxiety. But, my dear not so little one, the world is a scary scary place full of real dangers and monsters that never existed before.