Saturday, March 06, 2010

protecting my gifts

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.

My babies.

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.


  1. I get this post. Sooo get it. Mine are only 2 1/2 and 7 months, but I know my time is coming. :-(

  2. Guess what came in the mail today? My copy of John Walsh's video "Stranger Safety", which he produced with the Baby Einstein lady. I watched it a couple of years ago. It is smart in its recommendation about staying away from the word "stranger" and instead breaking down people into "safe," "kinda knows," and don't knows. It is also surprisingly entertaining and not nearly as goofy as you might think from the cover. I plan to show it to the boys A LOT before school starts. You can borrow it any time.

  3. Trust your gut instinct - that's what it's there for.

    They are going to go out into the world - you are doing the right thing getting involved in the school and worrying - and the worry never ends.

    I freak everytime I get a phonecall when the kids are coming home from school (we have a lot of kidnapping here (for money)).

    Even though there is a bus driver, bus Mum (to ensure kids behave), GPS (so school bus office can track where buses are), radio back to school and a mobile phone in case you want to ring - plus only 8 children per bus AND dropped off to our front door, plus MUST be given to a known adult. I still get a twinge of panic when I get a phone call between 2:20 - 3:30.

    You make sure there are all the precautions and then cross everything in the hope they are all safe (and you panic even more when they go to another country for a school camp (and they are 8 and 11 years old).

  4. I can't even imagine a place where my children can't just leave the house anytime they want, and go wherever they want. They have left on their own since they could ride their bikes at age TWO. Biking around the town themselves. Going to the softball field over a mile away THEMSELVES...and I have rarely even worried about them. I'm more worried about a loose dog then I am someone who is going to hurt or pick up or lure my child away. I just can't imagine.

    As for school, my kids started school at three (Kaisa) and two and a half (Koy). They go to school full time at a school speaking only the Inupiaq Language using a Kindergarten curriculum based on our subsistence seasons. Hunting, gathering, etc. They learn not only the colors, how to count, how to read, and how to correctly put together a sentence, but they also learn how to skin a bear, trap a lynx, and snare a rabbit.

    Again...I can't imagine. Today, we had a HUGE basketball tournament with 28 visiting teams from around northwest Alaska, and a fully packed gym. My six year old was wandering around for probably ten hours today while I refereed eight games in a row, where I didn't really know exactly where she was, but I wasn't worried because if anything happened to her, someone would come and get me.

    This is why I live in Alaska.

  5. My favorite kid in their class right now is the Columbian Druglord's kid. Guess what? The druglords totally bring awesome treats and they aren't going to start kidnapping kids where their kids go to school. Unless, you take up drugs. Clearly your favorite restaurant guy was up to no damn good.

    School has been such an awesome and fun experience for my kiddos, and I would bet your school is way higher up on the socio economic ladder.

    If you put all these fears on your kids, you will stunt them as people. They are going to be FINE. I am enjoying each phase, so I don't have time to mourn the past.

    I mean it's not like I tried to move to get in a better school, then bought two homes to have backup addresses or anything. I don't obsess over stuff like you.


  6. Letting go IS hard (ask me I'm still struggling with it and mine is about to be 16!). But it is necessary so that they can become strong, independent adults. I keep my hand on him, but the time is drawing near when I will have to completely let go - and it terrifies me.

  7. As my sister-in-law taught me (her kids are 10+ years ahead of ours), you just pray them through one day at a time. If you think too far ahead, you will go crazy with worry.

  8. Wow---William is so strong--just like his Dad. I could never get that hanging on thing--ahem!

  9. After I read this post, I thought of this passage from the Kahlil Gibran. It speaks directly to what you are feeling, and I think it might help you with the separation process.

    Your children are not your children.
    They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
    They come through you but not from you,
    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
    For they have their own thoughts.
    You may house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
    Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

  10. Michele - the restaurant owner was living in the US, but was tagged as a "wealthy" person. He was kidnapped PURELY for $$ and I seriously doubt he had done anything wrong. Except, earn enough money that he was marked. It is so common around here for people to be kidnapped and held for ransom. You have no idea.

    It has gotten so bad in Mexico that the more financially well off people from TJ are fleeing over the border to live on the US side. But they're still getting grabbed HERE, and that's what shocked me.

    Have I ever written about my hairdressers BIL who was kidnapped? He worked in Mexico and was traveling back and forth over the border every day. A gang grabbed him in Mexico and demanded $ for his safe return and then, just to make their point, they sent a few of his fingers to the family in a box.

    It sounds like something from a movie but it's a true story.

    And that's why I worry.

  11. Yikes, Jen. Make sure you wear your absolute oldest mom clothes and keep a dirty car when you go to school. NOBODY would know I had money. As in NOBODY. Make a point of telling everyone your husband is out of work too, just to drive home how poor you are.

  12. Wow, Jen. Things like that don't happen in most parts of the county. Are you still considering a move or is that out of the question for now?
    I still say, if you pick your kids up and drop them off, school is probably a safe zone for them. I'm sure (I hope) it's full of caring teachers and staff who are fully aware and prepared for any situation. I say, give it a might be surprised! : )
    I do see where you're coming from though. And I TOTALLY get the analogy that they are your heart walking outside of your body.
    Laura (Ohio)
    Good luck! Would the kiddos start in June already?

  13. Being a non-parent I obviously cannot feel the same feeling you do about letting go but as an aunt I have some of the same feeling about my nephews and nieces as I've watched them grow over the years. The youngest is now a freshman is college. How on earth did that happen? She just learned to walk a few weeks ago.

    You worry about them so even by extension are they going to be bullied at school, OMG drugs, alcohol and gangs. I have faith that my siblings raised their children well, to know right from wrong, to understand that they must take a responsible place in the world and to treat people as they themselves wish to be treated.

    I have faith that you and Charlie are raising your children well and protecting them the very best way you can.

  14. Just signed Shayna up for school. Check it out on my blog!