As you’ve seen from earlier entries here two weeks ago on Oct 19th – 8 miles from my house – a 7 year old girl was snatched off the street on her way home from school and found two days later murdered in a landfill. She was an average middle class child walking a short distance home from school with her twin brother, older sister and a friend in a “safe” neighborhood full of people. They got in a fuss and she ran ahead of them towards home. And she was taken. And no one saw it. Parents and police were looking for her within an hour of her disappearance. No one saw it.
The initial shock has worn off the community now but we still don’t have answers. This
person monster is still out there. And every parent in town is acutely aware of it. At dance, at gymnastics, at the ball field – this is what we are discussing – in the pediatricians waiting rooms, the car pool line – there is NOT another topic.
No child is allowed out of sight. The older ones they understand it, the younger ones not so much. My four year old balks at having to sit in the stands at her sister’s ball games rather than play in the dirt behind the stands. Any child seen alone is a problem for any adult. We approach them, question them. “Where is your mommy? Are you supposed to be here alone?” We are all writing new rules for each other – we don’t care about stepping on each other’s parenting toes. No child is safe.
Everyone knows a snippet “they” supposedly aren’t saying on the news. Something about what they found in the empty house nearby or something about evidence in the landfill she was found in. Everyone knows someone who knows someone on the police force who said something. I think we are mostly clinging to rumor because it makes us feel hopeful that it will be over soon. We pray that the police know something they aren’t saying. It’s a glimmer of light at the end of this terrible tunnel.
I hate living like this. Chafe at my child’s loss of freedom. I’ve always proudly been a “Free Range Parent” and one day I hope to be again. But not this week. Most likely not in the next. After they catch
I’ve had to explain murder to my child. For her own safety – she is eight and she knows what murder is. Yeah I know, poor little upper middle class white kids had to learn about crime – boo hoo. But still…
Mostly we talk of it in terms of safety but you have to let the scary parts in to make sure they are taking it seriously. A bad guy is not a vague notion any longer. And really I’m so proud of how well she’s taken it in.
Taking it seriously but at the same time not shaken. They are all amazing these kids – being told everyday there is a murderer in our midst. Be careful, take care. Be safe. The nod, they comfort us, “I’ll be safe Mama. I know about the new rules, I avoid strangers, I play in the back yard only, I’m never alone. I’ll be okay.”
We desperately try to believe them.