Monday, May 19, 2014

What Happened Today

I had in my plans for today to take Maddie to her last day of preschool and then sit down and write a little post about our new house.  But things took a different course for today and I feel I need to write about it to process it.

Maddie got sick last night just before I went to bed.  So that meant she would miss her last day of preschool and I would just stay home with her and Hunter.  I got Reagan up and ready.  We put her shoes and jacket on and I sent her out the door with an "I love you" and a wave.

Since we just moved a week and a half ago, I watch her walk to the corner about 50 yards away from our house.  And then I pretty much stand there and watch her until she gets picked up.  Mostly because I want to make sure she is behaving herself and not dancing and twirling in the street.  Today as I was observing I noticed a car drive past.  It was a distinct vehicle.  I won't go into details for the protection of another's privacy.  Moments later, that vehicle came back and stopped and sat at the street corner right by Reagan.  I thought I could see the driver window down.  From my vantage point I couldn't hear or see if there was a discussion, but the vehicle stayed for several minutes - at least much longer than was necessary.  Just when I was about to go out there it drove away.  The bus came and Reagan got on and went off to school.

And that little moment just sat there in my mind, churning over and over.  What on earth had happened?  I needed to know - needed to ask Reagan - but with a sick kiddo at home I could not just pick up and go over to school and ask her.  So I emailed her teacher about the incident and asked if she would ask Reagan about it.  She did so in the most brilliant non-leading and calm way.  Reagan confirmed that something had happened.  That a lady in a certain color car had asked her if she wanted to ride with her.  I'm pretty sure I sort of freaked out at this point.

Reagan said "No."  Praise the Lord, she said "No."

We teach our kids about stranger danger.  I am by no means the poster child for moms who teach about stranger danger, but we've discussed it.  And all the while I taught her I must tell you I never once thought she would really need to know.  I didn't think she would have to use that lesson.

But today she did.

Today.  She.  Did.

With a phone call to the police department I was soon connected to a very pleasant Officer H.  He was so kind and considerate.  And though he took it all seriously he was not alarmed.  Let's just say he was calmer than I was.  I may have choked up several times when he asked me questions.  Especially when he asked me how old she was.  "Seven," I choked.

And even though I knew my daughter was safe, that she was at school being loved on by her awesome teacher and the great students and staff at her school, my mind wandered so fast and far to what COULD have been the story for my day.

Officer H made arrangements to do some patrolling to find the vehicle that matched my description.  He set up extra patrols in our neighborhood.

I heard from Reagan's principal almost immediately after he received an email from me about what had happened.  He, too, offered to do whatever he could to help in this situation.

Reagan got home right on time and I've never been so happy to see that little girl waltzing up the driveway.  She was completely focused on the contents of her backpack.  And all I could think was how this morning something really scary happened.  I asked her about it and she repeated the same story she told her teacher.  And then she asked me, "Mom, were they trying to take me away from you?  Because I don't want them to.  I really love you."

How do you even...?

I had had most of the day to attempt to calm myself down.  But how many times today I found my hands shaking or tears pricking my eyes or a lump in my throat I can't tell you.

Tonight after supper Officer H called me back and told me he had tracked down the vehicle and the person who was driving.  It was a young girl on her way to high school.  She hadn't meant any harm.

Truthfully, I hold no ill will toward her.  She made a mistake and goodness knows I made scores of them when I was in high school.  My prayer is that she is not angry or embittered or overly upset.  My prayer is that she will not be afraid to help others in the future, but perhaps just encouraged to do it with more wisdom.  Will you pray with me for her?  I don't know her name or how old she is.  I know nothing about her.  But I am asking for prayer for her heart.

And I am asking for prayer for mine as well.  I'm a little shaken up about all this.  I'm sure some people think I have gone completely overboard with my reaction.  I'm absolutely certain not everyone would handle things the way I did.  And that's fine.  That's up to each of us as parents to decide.  But in my defense, what if Reagan had gotten in that car this morning.  I would have watched my little seven year old girl climb in a strange vehicle and drive away from me to who knows where with a complete stranger.  And that isn't a light matter.

Lastly, I am asking all of you with young children to remind them about what to do when approached by someone they don't know.  Don't scare them but don't tell them it will never happen to them.  Don't make promises that aren't yours to keep.  Prepare and equip your kids to face the world of 2014, where some people are out to harm children.  Please pray for the hundreds of kids in my town and yours who stand at bus stops every single morning, that God will shelter and protect them from harm.

Praise the Lord our story this morning ended this way.  There are many that don't.  It does happen.

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