#4~Rule of Mama
When my three children were very young, we had heard of Stranger Danger, but living in an apartment complex where all the children played in a common area right behind our apartment, Stranger Danger seemed worlds away. My patio door was always open so I could hear them playing through the screen door. All was well. Until it was not!
I realized I could no longer hear the voice of my 3 year old Baby Girl. I rushed out to the play yard and she was nowhere to be seen. I asked her two brothers, 4 and 7 years old, where she was and neither had noticed her being gone. I grabbed them and we walked the area screaming her name at the top of our lungs to no response. Many neighbors came out to help look and I ran back home to call the police.
The police officer came and took a quick report and began helping look for her. My blood ran cold as he searched the creek area and directed others to check the lake. I could hear folks calling her name in the distance but felt like I was frozen in time. The officer had instructed me to stay at the apartment and I paced, prayed and agonized. He came by to tell me more officers had arrived and they were going door to door and searching apartments.
They searched for three and a half hours and were planning to drain the lake when a police officer saw someone peeking through a window and thought it might be her. They surrounded the apartment and the “lady of the house” swore to them only her two boys, 9 and 10 years old, lived there with her and neither of them had been in the house all day. The officers ignored her and went through the apartment to the room with the window the officer had noticed. The door was locked and they went on through to find my precious Baby Girl inside. She had fashioned a staircase from items in the room and climbed up on the dresser to look out the window because she heard her name being called. She had been abducted by children??? Yes!
She had been knocked around, had a cut lip and a bruise on her cheek, was in shock, but not molested. That day changed my world, and probably hers, irrevocably. I had very little trust ability at that point in my life, and it was completely and utterly depleted. I coddled and cuddled her. She was terrified and shook uncontrollably. Later that night, the same boys’ father came to our door. He told us that he had driven in from a town over two hours away to ask us not to send his boys to detention. They were good boys and had never been in trouble and it really was just boys acting up.
When my husband told him it was out of our hands, he became very belligerent. He told us that he was doing everything he could to help them but had lived hours away most of their lives. My husband finally told him again that it was out of our hands and he would need to talk to the authorities. I drove my Baby Girl to my sister’s home a few miles out of town, asking her to keep my daughter safe while we dealt with the ramifications of the day. I knew my sister would care for her as her own and she would be in a quiet, loving environment to heal.
A Child Services Case-Worker came out the next day and told us the two brothers had been in trouble repeatedly and they would most likely be sent to juvie. At that point in time, I said, “Fine! That’s exactly where they belong!” My heart was hard against children? Yes, indeed. I was afraid. I was angry. I wanted revenge.
As my daughter’s face healed and she became strong and calm, my heart softened. I began to wonder what the boys had done in the past. I called the Case-Worker and he came back out to the house. I asked him what their lives had been like growing up. He shared they had been in foster care twice, but always sent back home to a mother who drank. A lot. I then asked what trouble they had been in before. The list was not long and it included damage to a STOP sign, breaking a window, and fighting.
I spent a lot of time thinking about them, talking with my husband and praying. I found a place of forgiveness for those boys and we made an arrangement with Social Services and Family Court for the boys to be sent to live with their father, permanently, who seemed to be a good, decent man.
However, I also had a talk with my daughter and set a “Rule” for her to follow. Yes, she was young, but she understood very well when I told her to never, ever let anyone touch her or make her do anything against her will. “You fight. You scream. You kick. You bite. You pull hair. Whatever you can do, do it!”
Two years later, when she was in kindergarten, my “Rule” came in handy for her. A little boy came up behind her on the playground, grabbed her ponytail, yanked her head backwards and then kissed her on the mouth. Without a thought, she took her little fist up and backwards and knocked his two front teeth out of his mouth. Yes she did!
I got a call from the principal who needed me to come in and meet with the boy’s parents. They were planning to sue us for medical cost and damages. I flew hot! I told them what their perfect little boy had done to warrant a smack-down and why she reacted the way she did. I did not apologize and I wasn’t backing down. They could take me to court. They could sue me ’til the cows came home, but I would not, could not apologize for her behavior. After hearing the WHOLE story, they apologized for their son’s behavior. They had only been told there was a fight between him and a girl. There was no lawsuit. No payment for medical or damages.
I set a “Rule” for my daughter to follow. It was not a rule that was ever going to change and one for which I knew I would never offer an apology. Be careful when you make a rule for your children to follow. This may seem too simple to need anymore even said, but trust me, not all rules are made to be broken. Some rules are hard-core and set in stone. Some may be flexible on occasion or in emergencies, but make sure if you set a “Rule”, you can back it up and enforce it when necessary. You are teaching by example.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6