So I sort of re-discovered Mike's blog today and was thinking about a childhood memory that I was also reminded of yesterday when I read this disturbing article that Jeff had sent to me.
This is a very vivid memory for me. I was probably about 9 years old riding my bike to the convenience store that was about 3/4 mile from our house. This in itself boggles my mind because there's NO WAY IN HELL that I would even let my almost-12 year old daughter ride her bike on a busy road to a place that was that far from the house, but I guess things were different then or something because I was going to get some milk for my mom for dinner (or something). I was almost there when a man approached me and said hello. I stopped and said hi. He was probably about 20-ish, but it's hard to tell age when you're 9 years old. He had scraggly dark blonde hair that was sort of wavy and needed a haircut and he had a beard and a mustache. He was dressed casually in a flannel shirt and work boots...I remember his boots had mud on them. He asked me if he could show me something. I said sure. He said it's just back there in the woods. He pointed behind him to a fence and some trees. There was a sort of creek that ran through that part and he said what he wanted to show me was down there. I said no I really have to get back, my mom needs some milk. He said are you sure? It will only take a minute. I just said no I gotta go and I left. I don't know if he tried to follow me or anything because I didn't look back. I don't remember feeling particularly anxious or scared because he was not a scary looking man. I remember the ONLY reason I didn't go with this man was because I knew I would get in trouble if I took too long getting the milk! It didn't occur to me until years later that I may not be here writing this if I had actually gone with him. I could have been a statistic, a headline on the evening news, a wreath laid beside the road to mark the place I was last seen alive...you get the idea.
I guess my point is that I don't think parents (myself included) have any idea just how many sick people are out there waiting to prey on children. And I'm not talking about small children because a lot of times they are smarter than we give them credit for, I'm talking about that sort of "tween" age that isn't quite a little girl and not quite a teenager. Sure we've all heard the "don't take candy from strangers" mantra, but what about the not so dubious sounding requests? My daughter has ADHD, is very naive, and very outgoing and I can totally see her just trusting anyone without a thought because she's forgetful like that. It's a scary thought indeed. I think I will let her read the article. That might be the best way to illustrate to her that people aren't automatically deserving of our trust.