When I was 6 years old, my family lived right across the street from an elementary school. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time walking over there (all of 10 ft) to the playground on a daily basis. One weekend I went over there as usual (I’m assuming it was a weekend because my dad was home during the day) and as I was crossing the street to go home a man in a pick up stopped me. He rolled down the window of his dingy maroon truck and asked if I needed a ride home. He had no idea that his truck was the only thing that was keeping me from making the 10 foot trek back to my house.
I was literally paralyzed with fear. Even at six, I knew that this was not an okay question for a grown man to be asking. I have no idea how I got away from him, I do remember telling him no, and then running as fast as I could. Looking back, I’m lucky he didn’t decide to get out of the car. I immediately went inside and told my parents. My father was so angry!
The second scariest thing that I remember happening to me was when I was out about 10, living in a different neighborhood, & was out riding my bike. My parents had set up a perimeter for me so that I could feel like I had some independence around the neighborhood and they could feel like I was safe.
I had just finished riding up the longest.hill.ever and I got to a stop sign. I stopped to look both ways before turning left (and doing the nerdy hand signals too) and these teenage boys in a bronco stopped their car and pointed a gun at me. I was instantly frozen. They saw how scared I was and thought it was hilarious. Then pulled the trigger.
I heard everything happening in slow motion and I remember thinking, “My mama is going to be so sad.” I really thought that I was dead. It turns out these were just some dumb, bullies who had taken the orange cap off of some toy pistol to make it look real and they were driving around the neighborhood scaring little kids like me.
The third creepiest thing that ever happened was when I was 17 and I was out running. I started noticing a blue dodge ram following slowly behind me as I ran. So I picked up my pace. I was only 2 blocks from home & I wanted to get there as fast as I could. That guy was creeping me out.
I made it home. A few days later I was out running again and there was that dumb blue truck. This time he slowed down, rolled down his window, and I saw this 40ish year old man sitting at the wheel, and he asked me if I wanted a ride home.
In my mind I was thinking, “Sure. I’m out here in running clothes, sweating my ass off just so I can hop in the truck with some rapist asshole and end up in a ditch where only God knows where.” I said nothing to him and ran as fast as I could home. And that was the last time for a long time that I went running in the evenings.
I have honestly never given these stories a second thought since they happened. Mostly because I was so young that I had absolutely no awareness of how fragile life was and just how close I came to being Elizabeth Smart or Jaycee Dugard. I could have been them in that first story. I have been thinking about them so much now that I’m a mom. I wonder how I will ever let Lboy go ride his bike around the block without being terrified that something will happen.
How do we let our children have NORMAL childhood experiences like riding bikes, playing at the school playground that we live across the street from, or let him go running?
What do y’all do to keep your kids safe & still let them have fun at the same time?