Last week I took my three girls shopping for new bathing suits as the following week swimming lessons were scheduled to start. Because we live in a fairly small rural town we made a day of going to “the city ” (Lawrence, Kansas) -big but not the big city.
We pulled up in the parking lot of Target and the traffic was fairly busy so I told my oldest daughter Boo, whom is 7, to exit her side of our Yukon and walk round to the front and stand close to me as I still had to unbuckle my two youngest daughters (Owl 4 years old and Bunny 3 years old) from thier car seats. Boo exited the vehicle as I’d instructed and starts to make her way round our Yukon when I notice a lady exit an SUV on Boo’s side. She is looking at Boo and I can hear her ask her a question. I’m unbuckling the two little girls and watching this unfold. Of course as a mom that frequently travels with all three of my young girls, I am very aware of my surroundings and alarm bells are sounding in my head. I am literally mentally shouting at Boo to quickly get round my side of the Yukon.
Thankfully I have frequently had the stranger talk with my girls. And just as Boo and I had practiced she didn’t pay the lady any mind and high tailed it to my side. I did a collective sigh when I had my hands on her shoulder. But then ! The lady from the SUV continues to walk round to us standing on our side of the Yukon and says to me, “Wow, you have a whole crew there!” I commenced to nodding and paying her no attention. I look up expecting her to have gone but she’s standing at the end of the Yukon just staring. If my alarm bells were yelling before they were utterly screaming now. There is no way this woman could be up to any good.
She then proceeds to say, “Nice Yukon, it looks much newer than in your pictures.” Meanwhile I’m thinking what? I don’t know you! What scam is this?!
I’ll tell you what happened next. I became 😡 angry. How dare someone think to threaten the existence of me or my daughters. So I did what any insane mother bear would do, I became the mean girl. I squared my shoulders, tucked my girls behind me and lifted my shirt enough to reveal my shoulder holster and pistol. And I said, “I don’t know what you’re going on about but I don’t know you and I’d be obliged that you respect the space of me and my girls.” I didn’t draw on her or anything of the like, but I wanted to send a very clear message.
The color commenced to drain from her face at an alarming rate and she put her hands palm up in mock surrender and said, “I’m supposed to meet a lady with a black Yukon for sale.”
Before I could say anything more a black Yukon, identical to mine with a few more bumps and bruises pulled up next to her, rolled down the window and asked if she was so and so that agreed to meet to look at the Yukon for sale…..
I tipped my hat and took my brood on in to the store. In the moment I didn’t think much about the whole experience, just the fact that I was relieved this woman whom I’d thought a threat truly was just meeting someone and it was a case of mistaken identity.
But these few days later it appals me that I even feel the need to behave in such a way in today’s society. I grew up where everyone left doors unlocked, where everyone said hello and offered you a cup of coffee even if you weren’t a familiar face. And here I am today in a public car park with my three girls armed to the teeth and ready to push back if threatened. Has it really come to this?
I don’t want to teach my girls that the world is a place to be scared of. I do want to teach them to be prepared, aware, and minimize themselves as a target or victim of crime. In today’s world how do we do this without going overboard?
So today I’m praying for knowledge, the knowledge to lead my girls and raise them into independent women that can protect themselves, but yet be the person that still offers a friendly word to a stranger in a car park.
How do you raise children in today’s society to toe the middle of the road between safe, yet still personable ?