There have been so many thoughts swirling about my mind regarding our children heading off to school this summer. Not fall - but summer - because it's a year round program.
Just yesterday, as I was driving to a meeting and mulling things over, it was like everything finally came in to focus and I was able to pinpoint the exact source of my distress.
Ultimately, what I've concluded is that I'm not lamenting our children "growing up" as much as I am lamenting "letting go."
As their mother, I'll never really let them go, but I think most parents would agree, sending a child off to school is the first big step towards independence.
Of course all of this is complicated by the fact that time marches onward and my children are growing up more quickly than I expected. They will not always be so small that I can just scoop them up and cuddle them whenever I want.
Not that I always want to.
Because just today, as they were literally bouncing off the walls, I hollered that they needed to go in the back yard and give me some PEACE! and QUIET!
What makes this whole 'letting go' thing particularly tough for me is that over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of bad happening around us. In our immediate neighborhood, there have been at least six break-ins within the past four months, including approximately four cars and two homes. Criminals are smashing out car windows or jimmying locks. One of our neighbors came home last week to see that someone had broken their back door and stolen a new laptop computer and various electronic equipment.
One of the women in my small bible group is a corrections officer at a federal prison. This past week she shared with us that the ringleader for the top drug cartel in Tijuana had been at her facility. And apparently, his children were attending one of the elementary schools in our neighborhood.
She also mentioned that the proprietor of our favorite Mexican restaurant was recently kidnapped by that same drug cartel and held for ransom, at one of the houses less than two miles away from our home. The kidnappers had demanded $2,000,000.00. The family was only able to come up with 10% of that, but they called in the FBI, who marked the bills and were able to rescue the man. He'd been tied up and tortured for 12 days before he was found.
All this ... happened ... in our neighborhood.
And we didn't even know about it.
There are rational fears and there are irrational fears. But sometimes, when there are bad things happening all around you, it's really difficult to distinguish between the two. Some might think someone going in to an elementary school with a gun and taking children hostage is an irrational fear. Unless, you happen to know that there are students who attend that school, that are the children of a top drug lord in Mexico.
I've read the book, Protecting the Gift and I have learned a lot from it. It's important to do your research, trust your instincts, be aware, and teach your children. There is no doubt, I am our children's number one advocate and I must stay engaged and not just assume (or hope) that they'll always be safe. As such, I'll be writing a letter to the Principal of our children's school, just as the book suggests, and both Charlie and I will be committed to staying involved with their school activities. We're also planning to set up a series of small surveillance cameras all around the school grounds that we can link to our iPhones.
No, not really. Although I like the idea. Because I wonder, have I done enough work to prepare myself and our children as they begin this first step, out of the nest?
Then again, can you ever be prepared enough?
There have been news reports of a man attempting to lure small children in to his vehicle at various schools around San Diego County. And earlier this week, the terrible story about what happened to the beautiful and vibrant Chelsea King, who also lived here in San Diego, just reaffirms that there is a lot of evil in the world.
I'll say it again: There is a lot of evil in the world and it makes me physically weak to think about sending our precious children out in to it. At least when they are with me, I feel like I can better protect them.
I love them more than I love myself. And watching them, is like seeing my heart on the outside of my body.
Parenthood is about loving, teaching, and learning to trust and let go.
I'm really struggling with that last part.