Posted by: janineplusbrianequals | August 16, 2010

Protecting Children

I’ve been noticing recently how dramatically and quickly my fear levels shoot up when my son Kai is missing. And sometimes just when he is running away at a crowded event.

Yesterday I was at a large  and crowded Tim Hortons. Despite being large and crowded, it is still a reasonably small space. I was standing in a line probably 15 people deep and watched as a 3 year old girl dodged through the line and raced around the many tables, condiment bars and partitions. I watched her go and had time for a couple thoughts before her concerned, mildly frantic, mother rushed, less efficiently, after her.

My first thought was to catch the child, and I quickly ignored this impulse once I realized there were no open doors for her to escape through. My second thought was more of a feeling. It wasn’t a particularly violent feeling, but I had a strong sense of how quickly I would climb over or smash through all barriers to get to the child and protect her if it appeared as though she was in danger from some person or thing. So I kept watching with some sense of readiness.

No threat came, the mother caught the child and my coiled senses released and began once again to ignore the little family and focus instead on achieving the coffee and donuts I had set out for.

I relate this experience for a couple reasons. As a parent, I am pretty paranoid of most public settings and I sometimes  treat my son with a tight and controlling attitude.

On the one hand, I shared this mother’s concern for the child, quickly taking in the physical space and looking for dangers and exits. Presumably this is a useful function. But on the other hand, this woman could have remained much calmer had she known that other parents in the room were keeping an eye on the girl, even when she herself lost a line of sight. I sincerely doubt I was the only stranger, of a different race, who would have immediately risked my life for the child without a second thought.

Obviously there is no substitute for a parent’s direct supervision, but somehow I hope to grow in an appropriate trust of the people around me. For all the malicious, disturbed and vulnerable adults in the world who might offer harm to a child there are many multiples more who would come to the child’s aid.

Ah, but even writing this brings up feelings of concern and mistrust. Its a funny world.




  1. I like this.

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