Talking to my child about safety from other humans is a topic I wish I never had to address. The “what ifs” make me want to pack up our family of four and move to a small deserted island. If you have read any of my past posts, you already know that I am a very anxious Motherlucker! I am working on being less of a helicopter Mom and more of a single engine plane doing periodic fly-bys. I’m a work in progress.
Just the other week, Ashlyn and her BFF were having a lemonade stand a few houses down. I learned the next day that a man (who claimed he was new to the neighbourhood) had invited the girls to walk down to his home and see his bunnies. “Oh and don’t forget to bring your camera, he said!”
So this led to a big discussion on how to handle yourself in difficult situations. If anyone tries to take you scream, hit, kick, pinch. Currently, in my head, I am signing Ashlyn and myself up for taekwondo or boxing lessons. A thought – do they sell kid-size pepper spray that attach to backpacks? You know the ones that are reminiscent of the cute Bath & Body hand sanitizers.
Less than 24 hours after the stranger danger talk, the horrific bombing in Manchester happened. We were all hanging in the family room when it came on the news. Ashlyn was at full attention when she heard them say, “Ariana Grande.” We all watched in horror as the story started to unfold. Ashlyn happens to be a big Ari fan and was quite shaken that this would happen at an event where most of the people affected were near her age. I could tell she was uneasy and the wheels in her petite head were in overdrive. I said, “Honey are you ok?” She simply replied, “Mom. That could be us.”
Bedtime approached and Manchester was weighing heavily on all our minds. I didn’t really have any words of motherly wisdom. I just cuddled with her and told her to pray. I think Ashlyn slept maybe two hours in her room and then crawled into bed with me and her dad for the remainder of the night.
Morning came and Ash went to school. Extra-long hugs were exchanged and at least three “I love you’s”. I know Manchester is 3914.7 miles away. However, it felt as if it were happening a few blocks away. As a mom, I couldn’t stop thinking about parents who would never get to tuck their daughters in EVER again. Young kids that lost their parents in the attack. All the people that were not hurt physically yet traumatized by what they witnessed.
That next evening, when we talked about Manchester, I had to put on my strong, positive, brave mommy hat. I reminded Ashlyn that what happened in Manchester was devastating. A tragedy that stemmed from cowards.
However, I then had to switch gears and lie. Lie? Yes, lie. You see, as a super anxious helicopter parent, I immediately wanted to sell tickets to a concert we will be attending together this summer. I wanted to tell her that it wasn’t worth the risk.
BUT NO, that is not what I did. I told her that as tragic as the bombing in Manchester was, it is not the norm. These things are very rare. There are many more good people in the world. You should feel sympathy, but you have to let it go. You cannot live your life in fear.
We will travel to the concert for which Ashlyn has been literally counting down the days since December. We will dance, laugh and I will watch her be in awe of her very favorite performer. I will watch her little petite head be giddy with excitement and wonder.
Together, we will celebrate life and our love of music together. Music has always been my greatest escape. One that I have joyfully passed on to my daughter. Music is what I turn to when I need to feel relief. NO ONE will take that away from us. I may say a few hundred Hail Marys in my head that day, and pop a Zanax. But she won’t know. Ready for take-off!
To support those affected by Manchester please go to http://onelovemanchester.com/