Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What Scares Me

As Halloween grows near, with ghosts and goblins around every corner, I was speaking with a friend of mine about fears, real and imagined.  I told her, I don’t watch the news.  I don’t listen to the news.  I don’t read - yup you got it – the news.  It is not that I don’t care about what is going on in the world or even my neck of the woods, it is that my brain cannot get rid of the truly horrible and the media thrives on showing the truly horrible.  The news makes me fearful.
Point in case, as I am sitting in the hospital waiting room the TV is on CNN.  “Up next is a story about every parent’s nightmare, an 8 year old boy, lost in New York city, who turns to the wrong person for help.”  I am heart sick for the rest of the day and cannot sleep at night.  Nothing compared to the horror that his parents are facing, but I don’t need this story to remind me that my children are growing up in an unsafe world.  I already hold them close, trying to protect them from every bump in the night – and some pretty scary day “bumps” too.  I have made my home a virtual fortress - short of putting up barbed wire.  I don’t mind telling you we have cameras, alarms, sensors and every other bell and whistle in place to try and keep our little ones safe. 
I am actually not free from these things even on Facebook, my refuge from reality – come on you all know the life we have on FB is way better than reality.  Ok, well maybe there are a few of you who post all your boo boos and woes – shame on you and stop it!  But the majority of us share happy photos, funny quips and a chicken or two for a farm.  Anyway, sometime ago a “friend” disturbed my Facebook refuge with a story about Shaniya Davis – if you don’t know the story don’t look it up as it will tear you up, just know it is very very bad.  This “friend” said we needed to band together and get rid of such evil in our world.  She reposted the news story in all it’s horrible detail.  And she gave no indication on what banding together to rid the world of evil even meant.  In fact I would guess that everyone reading that post thinks evil is wrong, would like it gone from this world and agrees with her, but just wanting it so or posting on FB does not make it disappear and is not a solution.
At night my daughter has taken to falling asleep with me in bed – don’t tell me how I am ruining her, I actually don’t care.  This time at night gives me the opportunity to snuggle her, holding her in my protective embrace – I think my husband does the same when he rocks our son to sleep every night.  It is not always an enjoyable time for me as she drifts to sleep peacefully; I wish it were.  But often I think of the boy from New York or little Shaniya, or some other horrible thing that has crept into my mind because someone has unwittingly told me a story or recounted a tragedy.  I think about how I could best protect both she and her brothers; quit my job and stay with them 24/7 , hire a body guard, never let them out of the house, I even think about scaring them into being afraid of strangers or at the very least teaching them about strangers.  Thats smart, right, teaching them about strangers?
A long time ago, a young friend of mine was playing downstairs while his mother showered.  She heard a man’s voice downstairs and quickly jumped out of the shower, threw on a robe and ran downstairs.  There at the door, her son was talking to a man.  She quickly got rid of the man and shut the door.  When she calmed down a bit she asked my friend, “Haven’t we said you are not allowed to talk to strangers?” 
“Yes,” was his reply. 
“Well then, why were you talking to that man?  He is a stranger.” 
“OH,” said my young cousin.  “I did not know he was a stranger, he looked just like a human being.”
This is what we are up against as parents.  A world full of strangers dressed up as human beings.  But worse than that we are in a world where evil can be dressed up as human beings.  I don’t mean that in a metaphysical sense, I mean we have evil people among us and they look like us!  I can’t tell the difference between a serial killer and a computer programmer (there is a test you can take for this at  So how do I think my children will be able to tell.  And worse yet, most children know the people that hurt them – so putting the fear of strangers into them does not always work either.
Besides, I don’t want fearful children.  The worst thing in Bella's little life right now is naptime and when we run out of gum, Zachary is barely even conscious of the world around him, and Taylor still thinks he is indestructible – as most man cubs do. 
I don’t know the answer.  I don’t know how to keep them safe from boogey people, while allowing them the freedom they need to grow.  I don’t know how to teach them about the world we live in without tainting their innocent hearts.  I certainly don’t know how to keep myself from worrying so they won’t grow up to be worriers themselves.   Do you?
I know this is a bummer of a post, but something that has weighed on my heart for a while.  It is easy to say that fear is not of God, but I believe we are also charged with training our children and preparing them for life.  I share this as a struggle of mine...perhaps you have answers and perhaps you struggle as well.