Thursday, July 20, 2006

They're mine and I'm not letting go

The kids have been in Vacation Bible School this week at the little country church that I grew up in, was saved in, was baptized in and sang many a "special" in on many a Sunday morning. We aren't members there and frankly, we haven't been to church anywhere in over a year. But lately, especially Abby, has been asking me questions that I can't answer, so I figured I'd send her to the professionals. So far they've learned the song Oh, How I Love Jesus AND the sign-language to it, they've consumed far more kool-ade and cupcakes than is probably allowable by law and Sam even scored a super cool headband that says "God Rocks!" (Which Tater thought said, "Got rocks?")

I know I am letting them down - and I'm disappointing God - by not having them in church every Sunday. The good ol' God-fearing Southern Baptist in me is feeling the guilt over not being there every time the doors are open. God and I are talking about it, we've been discussing it and I'm mustering up my courage to step back into a Baptist church for a Sunday morning service again. I made a promise that I would raise them right.

Anyway, tonight when I picked the kids up from the church Abby was drenched from a water balloon fight gone all-out "let's hydrate the kids through osmosis" experience. She was shivering in the air conditioning so I sent her out to the truck to be with her father in the 101' Oklahoma evening. She looked tired and worried about something, but didn't say anything. I told her to go, but she hesitated. She asked me to watch her walk out there. It was maybe 50 feet to the truck, but I had to keep her in my eyesight until she physically reached her father. I tried to turn around once and she ran back to me. I knew something was up.

She sat quietly shivering on the way home and was quiet when we got in the house. I sent her to the shower, knowing she was tired and obviously something was on her mind. When she got out she found me in the kitchen and wrapped her skinny arms around me and hugged me like there was no tomorrow. I stroked her wet hair and rubbed her back, then kissed her on top of the head. I pulled back and asked, "Now....tell me what's wrong. You've got a worry tonight, don't you?" She nodded and looked me right in the eye. "Well, tell me,Ab," I said. She sighed.


This is not something I like to even think about, so the fact that my 9 year old had it on her mind struck a chord way down deep inside me. Call it the Protective Mother gene or the Mother Bear Impulse or whatever, but the mere thought of someone taking my child from me just makes me bristle. Then force down the urge to vomit. I asked her what was making her worry about kidnappers.

She took a deep breath and then began to spout forth much more knowledge than I cared for her to know about kidnapping statistics nationwide for the summer. She told me that 500 kids have been abducted just this year. She told me that it wasn't even just grownups doing the kidnapping, that some kids had dressed up as cops and had kidnapped and killed another kid. She was relating to me her nightmares. And mine.

We live in our little patch of heaven. I like to think we live a very safe life. I am fiercely protective of my children and yes, the thought of them being kidnapped creeps into my thinking from time to time, but really I think I've convinced myself that it's a theoretical obsessive thought and that I'm doing everything I can possibly do to protect my children. It's a rare thing for me to allow them to go into public restrooms alone and even then I remind them before they go, "Don't talk to ANYONE. And hurry!" and I stand outside the door and pace until they are back in my reach. I have talked to them extensively about Stranger Danger and we've even role-played about what they are supposed to scream if someone tries to take them. Kady really gets into screaming "SHE'S NOT MY MOTHER!!!" and kicking the tar out of me, her pretend abductor. We've discussed how wandering off and not paying attention is a very, very bad thing.

But am I doing enough? Can I ever do enough? I think I've given my kids the right information and the knowledge and the power.

But what if I haven't?

Tonight when I tucked Sam in he got the giggles. The hysterical, sleepy giggles. He laid there on his bed in his SpongeBob underwear and laughed himself breathless and had tears rolling down his cheeks. I wondered if I had a booger hanging out of my nose and even asked him that, which only made him laugh harder. He is so perfect, even with his overbite and loud mouth. His freckles are perfect, his face is perfect and he's my little boy. I want him to be little and innocent and amazing forever. I kissed his head that smelled like little boy and summer and listened to his giggling taper off as I went to his sisters' room.

There was Kady in her Dora underwear, sprawled out on her bottom bunk amidst a sea of Strawberry Shortcake dolls and books. She was on her tummy, flipping through a book and picking her nose. How much more perfect can that be? To be four and in your underwear, picking your nose while you read a book about Knufflebunny. She's a drama queen, but I am so in love with my overly dramatic Elmer Fudd impersonator that I can't even begin to explain what I feel when I look at her.

Abby was climbing up the top bunk, her fears put aside for the night after her daddy threatened to kick anyone's butt who tried to mess with any of them. She was laughing and rubbing her butt cheek because she had bumped her behind against the door of her closet and it pinched her. She was wearing her headgear, her hair was still wet from her shower and she smelled like strawberry Suave shampoo and a generous few hundred spritzes of peony body spray. There are days that she acts like a teenager with her patented and perfected eye rolling and self-assured sarcasm, but then there are times like tonight when she seems so incredibly small and I think back to when I first held her. She was so teeny tiny and so beautiful that I cried. I can remember pushing back the panic at the absolute immensity of the responsiblity we had been given and I held her closer and kissed her head and vowed to hold her forever. She was little and vulnerable and she needed me to keep her safe.

She still does. And I will personally kick the butt of anyone who messes with her. I'll be in line right behind her daddy.


Stacie said...

Whatever made her worry about kidnappers? Sounds like Shael. After 9/11 Shael got so worried about terrorists she wouldn't even take a shower without me coming in there and turning the water on for her. She said she was afraid a terrorist was going to come up out of the drain when the water got turned on. She was 6, and the fear was real. It seems silly to us, but she was scared to death. It took me a couple of weeks to get the truth out of her as to why she was scared to take a shower.
But, we finally put her mind to ease in the same way you and Paul helped Abby. We told her that her Daddy would beat anybody who tried to terrorize her to a bloody pulp. That and the fact that we have guns and know how to use them put her mind to ease.

Shannon said...

I worry all the time about Brady, not as much now, as when he was little. I guess because he's the only child I have here at home, I have always worried something might happen.
Great Blog! Helped me think about all the great things he does.

Oh, and ya, about the buttworms................
I couldn't stop laughing at your post last night!!

Betty said...

My two are all grown up, now, and I still feel the way you do about them. The feelings and the fretting about them never goes away.

Redneck Diva said...

Stacie, she originally said she heard it on the radio, but I think she must've heard some growups talking at VBS, the more we talked. Poor kid. She was really worried.

Yeah, the ever-present Arsenal of Democracy that her daddy houses seems to put all of our minds at rest.

Jersey, first of all let me say I MISS YOU!! Where'd you go????

Secondly, I've written my fair share of posts that I've cried the entire time they were written, but last night's really got me, too. I'm glad it touched you.

Don't be a stranger! Drop me an email, k? I hope things are okay.

Shannon, I thought I'd worry less as they got older, but it seems to be increasing! And Abby is knocking on the door of *gasp* PUBERTY and that opens up the door to a whole new world of fears!

Betty, my mother assures me that I'll never stop. Each new age and stage brings a new set of worries, doesn't it? Now I kind of feel bad for putting my parents through hell...

Mrs. E said...

When the Cap'n was little he decided to play hide'n'seek with my mom and me at Belk's department store. We searched everywhere even went out on the streets calling his name. We found him hiding in one of those circular clothing racks. He was so proud of having fooled us. Bless his heart, he didn't quite get the reaction he was hoping for. I can still feel the panic. I worry to this day as he is driving in from Texas that someone will car jack him and carry him off. Of couse, no one would want his car so I don't worry as much as I used to. As mothers we can't help it. You become a mother and the worry chip is activated and never goes away. Your mom still has it. Trust me she prays an awful lot on those evenings where you go out with the girls. Can't help it. We've got the mother chip inbedded deep within our hearts and souls.

MamaKBear said...

When we first got Destiny, she had NO qualms about going up to anyone and everyone. It scared me to death! We had some serious talks with her about strangers and now she is really shy around people she doesn't know. She'll understand more as she gets older, but for now, at least she's not QUITE so trusting.

Yep, we worry all the's our jobs!

Carmel said...

That fear used to grip my heart when my kids were little. For so long when we lived in Okinawa, they were in a safe sheltered world. Then we moved to Virginia and they had to learn that not everywhere is a safe place. Now, they are grown and that same fear, mixed with the intense love you describe grips me when I think about my grandchildren. And, I have no doubt that I would be able to do much more than kick someone's butt if they harmed any of them. I think it's parental instinct to protect our young.

Mrs. E said...

If you looking for a church, were you aware that the Church by the Park is where your good friend Trish? Might check it out.

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