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Odd start to an even odder day.

July 22, 2009

Every have one of those frustrating moments when you wonder about something and then send off an email? Well, I did that this morning before breakfast. I sent an email out to the private reading group I’ve got for V V. Most of the 285 people I’ve never heard from, even once.

I figured I’d cut it down a bit, that perhaps they are not really into the book, and maybe it would be best if I just removed some of them. I got some great emails from people. Some reaching out for the first time and some making sure I wasn’t going to cut them even though they haven’t commented much.

It has been a nice distraction to the horror that has become my morning.

I took my kids to their last swim team practice today, after I sent the email out. The kids were having fun at the pool afterward, so I let them stay a bit. I look up, they are splashing in the shallow end, look again and they are playing a game walking around the pool deck. I should clarify here that the older kids are still having practice and the pool is not officially open yet.

I look up again (all of this is over a ten minute time frame) and see my 6 year old son leaning his head against a big column. He’s either crying or playing hide n seek. I look around and don’t spot my 8 year old daughter and her friend, so I’m guessing it’s hide n seek. Which isn’t too smart at the pool. This is a public place.

I tell my son it’s time to go, grab our things and head to find his sister. He thinks she’s hiding in the men’s room.

WHAT?

So not cool, so unsafe. Good god, is she just not thinking?

I call her name. No answer. I go into the men’s room and call her name loudly. I go to the ladies room and shout her name. I walk to the front of the entrance by the check in desk and start yelling her name. I race back to the pool and start practically screaming her name. Parents notice me and start to help.

By the way – my voice carries like it’s no one’s business. I can project in a room like a trained Broadway actor trying to reach the back of the hall. I know there is no way everyone in the damn parking lot hasn’t heard me by now. The swimmers are all paused and people are looking at me.

They should be – I’m freakin loud. The babysitter of the other little girl comes walking quickly over and spots my daugther’s friend. The friend reports my daughter is out front – where I already checked. Where there are work vans in front of the building and an entire parking lot of cars. I’m so freaked out by this point I have to hold back the tears and the screaming.

My daughter magically appears from the front of the main building onto the pool deck via the life guard station. She’s unharmed, and my fear quickly turns to rage. There is no way in HELL that kid didn’t hear me yelling. I order her to follow me and that we’re going home. I tell her to shut her mouth and not to speak to me. I was so afraid I was going to go postal on her right in front of everyone at the pool.

We’re walking home and she unwisely asks, “Are you going to spank me?” I reply no and tell her once again to not speak. I walk a bit and decide to ask her one question to let her stew.

“Did you hear me calling you?”

“Yes.” Once she sees my eyes she hastens to change it. “I mean no, not at first.” Uh huh, sure.

I quickly fire back, “I already know you heard me. I wanted to see if you’d lie.” After all, the whole damn pool and parking lot heard me. Sound carries well on water.

We only live a few hundred yards from the pool, so, of course, she has to push the envelope once more. “Are you going to ground me?” I tell her once again to not speak to me and that when we get home she needs to go to her room. I’m so enraged, I know it is unsafe for me to try talking right now.

We get home, she goes to her room and I call Pete up from his office and start crying. He’s shocked at what I tell him and saddened as well.

How can I get my daughter to understand the dangers of what she has done? Leaving a public place without telling me? Not responding to my desperate screams? Hiding in the men’s room?

I’ll add something here on a personal note. I was almost abducted when I was seven. I had the wherewithal to run when the man tried to grab me and pull me in the car. My daughter will be nine in the fall and I don’t think she has that same sense.

I had her write down in a letter to me what she did wrong. She was close. But I’m disappointed to say she blamed her friends and said that she trusted them that she was okay to leave the building (let’s not mention in the letter that I didn’t even know she was in the main pool building).

This is the same kid who knows she has to tell me if she’s heading to the bathroom when we’re at the pool. So that I can always watch and make sure she comes back out in a timely fashion and she and her brother are okay (they go together). The same kid who dove to the bottom of the pool over and over again at the end of June until her ear drum was damaged and she ripped it. After, I might add, she was told not to do it by me.

I sat her down after I read her letter and did something I’m not sure was right. I had the birds and the bees talk with her. Stressed the whole love and when your an adult part as much as I could. I went on to explain what rape was and what happens to kids who are abducted. I needed to scare her.

I’m not sure how much has sunk in. Her punishment today is for her to be in her room all day thinking. I sent her cousin and her brother to friends’ houses. I’m worn out and feel like I’ve gone through the ringer. My mom came by to drop off the cousin and even she didn’t want a part of this. Just said “no honey, I’ve been there and it’s not fun, ” and left me to my own devices.

Now, hours later, my daughter is focusing on her awful punishment and I’m not sure if I’ve reached her. This parenting thing is so damn hard. We’ll talk about this until she is blue in the face and the topic is not just a dead horse, but a decaying pile of bones by the time I’m done.

I truly fear what will happen to her one day. She is not like me. She is very happy go lucky and not the least bit self aware. Add to that a beautiful face, blue-green eyes and blond hair and she could be in some serious trouble when the teen years hit.

For me, being scared at age seven, knowing that the man that tried to take me was wrong made me a different child. 1977 in Falls Church, VA was as a safe place and time, yet I almost became a statistic. Will I be a good enough parent to prevent my daughter from becoming one too?

Okay, I’m crying again, so I’m gonna stop now. Good God, what if I can’t get through to her?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jenna Alexander permalink
    July 23, 2009 12:26 am

    CJ – I'm so sorry this happened. I hope writing it down helped a bit.

    As I parent I completely, 100% understand what you are going through. Our fear for their safety goes down to the smallest of detail. We worry about vitamins, sun screen, bike helmets, every little thing and some maniac could come by and take it all away from us in a heartbeat.

    I'm very sorry this happened

    Jenna

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