February 06, 2004

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Whenever I hear about a missing child like Carlie Brucia, I think about my own childhood and my overprotective parents. When I was a child, I wasn't allowed to do anything or go anywhere. At 12 years old, I wasn't even allowed to take the city bus. My parents insisted on knowing my friends and their parents before I went to their houses. I hardly ever went to slumber parties and all in all I didn't have a lot of independence. When I was a child, I thought this was the worst of all fates. I had no independence, no privacy. All of my activities were closely monitored.

When my mother started working outside of the home, my father started working from our garage so there was always an adult around. As I got a little older, I had a little independence in the area of walking to and from school. But even then, I had to be home by a certain time if not to practice or do my homework, to deliver newspapers or baby sit or do chores.

When I think back to those walks home from school, I can remember several times when a man would pull up along side me in a car and say he was a friend of my father's and that I should get in the car with him because my father asked him to give me a ride home. I never did. Because we were all so close, granted maybe a little too close, I knew all of my parents' friends and knew when a stranger was really a stranger. There were also a couple times when I was approached while delivering my papers by men who wanted to marry 13/14 year old me to one of their sons in their home country.

My parents were amazing. They were ahead of their time. Anything can go wrong at any time even to children of the most loving and overprotective parents. When I think about the strangers who approached me either on my way home from school or on my paper route, I'm thankful that my parents taught me to be cautious and I'm thankful that they were so careful about screening my friends.

In college, I ran into one of my friends from the block who disappeared the year I turned 10 years old. She told me the uncle of one of our other block friends had molested her and that her family had to move for her sanity and that she had been through years of therapy. Consider that my parents knew the uncle, the parents, the grandmother and the children from that extended family who were my friends. The uncle never laid a hand on me, but how sad for my friend. Remember, I said my parents screened everybody carefully. That could easily have been me.

Anyway, I think you get the point. When I'm a parent, I'll risk alienating my children for the benefit of their safety because one day they will grow up and come back to me and say thank you for protecting them, just like I do with my parents.

Even under the best of circumstances, even if you're doing the best you job you can, even you are the nicest and best people in the world, bad things still happen because life and all it has to offer, both good and bad, is random at best

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