My daughter is in London on a school trip. She comes home tomorrow.
It was Saturday evening before I’d heard the news of the London Bridge attack. We had already received an email from her chaperone about the fun they’d had that day and that they were back in their hotel room.
I called her anyway, but I wasn’t sure if she knew what was happening a few blocks away. After all, it was more likely that she was scanning over souvenirs or chatting with her roommates than watching CNN.
I quickly realized she knew because other parents had already called the chaperone.
“What do you think?” she asked.
There are several what I call “choice moments” when raising a child. I have stumbled over a few, but this one was simple. In one phone call, far away from home, I could have put all of my fears, my own issues, on my child’s head. I could have told her I was frightened, concerned, nervous.
I honestly wasn’t any more fearful than I am when she’s out late on the weekend. I should have been at my wit’s end, everything in the media told me I needed to panic and demand they return my sweet precious baby home where I could…
Where I could what, exactly?
Keep her from getting into a car accident on her way to school? Make her stay in the house, away from electricity and the pool? Ask her to sponge bath, so there’s no chance of her slipping in the shower?
Sure, these are extremes, but control is a slippery slope. Add in panic and it gets steep too.
The startling truth is that no parent has control over the world, not even the small pieces that touch our children. They will be in harm’s way throughout their lives, it is a fact whether I like it or not.
My daughter could have been out on the street when some jackasses decided to change her life forever, and whether I was next to her or 5,267 miles away, there would be nothing I could do to stop them.
I like control.
If I can’t have it, if life is random, then I want the next best thing. I want my children to be strong, prepared, educated, and aware. I want the good fight.
It’s all I can do. It is the only piece that allows my input.
The “choice moment” passed, and I answered her question.
“Well, just since we’ve been in San Diego this weekend a guy stabbed two people in a park, there were two or three convenience store hold-ups, and some woman ran into a laundry mat yelling at people and wielding a bat.”
“Really, dad just looked up the local news here in sunny California.”
“Huh, I guess it’s crazy all over.”
“Crazy never takes a holiday. I’m grateful you’re safe. How was your day today?” I asked.
She shifted into telling me about The Tower of London and Sherlock’s home. All the parts of her London experience that were not tinged by crazy.
Context tends to defuse panic and the absence of panic, while often confused for naivete, creates strength.
My youngest child is frequently out of reach these days. Adventures big and small. Often with ugly and senseless lurking. We have taught her to travel well and never give fear the upper hand.
That is the extent of my super powers.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Sleep Tight.