On Monday I had to have my car serviced. While waiting, my Wolfie called to say that there’d been a warning released to SA citizens to be on the alert for terrorist attacks against American citizens now living here. My car is an American brand. I was shaking with fear and suddenly everyone bringing their cars for a service that morning were suspicious.
The warning included avoiding major malls. I’ve not been to my local ‘major mall’ since; nor will I for quite some time to come.
This week (or last?) photographs were released on FB of an older lady taking pictures of children at a mall in Somerset West – a little over 50km from where I live. She was approached by the parents, but that’s about all I’ve read. Today it has been re-shared, saying that the same woman is doing the same thing at a mall in Caledon (much further away).
But yesterday something happened literally on my doorstep. Less than a minutes’ drive from my home. At my child’s school. In the parking lot right next to her Grade R class. Mere metres from where she was.
A balding man and a woman in a white van called one of the students (a little girl, apparently in Grade 3) of Kenridge Primary over to them and told her that her parents had asked them to collect her… She was obviously well educated enough by her parents to run away, crying. Literally.
I want to add here – HUGE Cudo’s to her parents for teaching her the right thing. Really. Can you just imagine how utterly fearful they are right now, at this very moment?
The scary thing for me is that this girl is older and definitely knew better; my child… I live in hope that she’d know better too. But what if they lured her with something that she loves?
Isabella was taught about stranger danger at play school last year; I’ve talked to her about it – not as relentlessly as I will most definitely do now. And I’m fairly certain that the teachers at Kenridge Primary will be touching on it this week.
These same two people apparently targeted two other schools in the last week plus.
Isabella wants to know what they do to the children. I’ve tried to be as honest as possible with her – within reason! – and told her that they hurt the children or take them out of the country or give them medicine to make them sleep or cut them. Yes, those are probably seriously brutal, but my feeling at this very moment is to put the fear of God into her to make her realise, in her own little way, just how damned serious this is!
Being a single parent makes things that much harder when we go out. At the shops, I ensure that she is always beside me, holding my hand, etc. When I need to pay, I make her put both arms around my leg, because my attention is otherwise focussed. Because this shit – this shit of stealing our children, it happens in SECONDS.
Now I’m looking at my little girl with very, very different eyes. I look at her and neither my heart nor my mind can fathom what it would be like if someone stole her from me. I cannot process what these beastly people would do to her. That beautiful innocent face.
I’m going to be spending a lot of time driving home “stranger danger” to her. She’s already rolling her eyes at me each time I mention it to her. But I’m not going to stop. I can’t. I can’t lose her and if there is ONE tool that I need to equip her with – it’s THIS. I wish that I could have faith – but my current issue with it is that she’s still so young and easily influenced.
I’m utterly petrified about this all and each time I think of it, my stomach fills with lead. I’m going to stay at school until that classroom door is firmly closed. I know that security at the school will be beefed up considerably now. I know that the policy with collecting kids at aftercare are strict and require signatures and prior permission, etc. if you can’t collect your child (I’ve seen the aftercare teacher phone the parent of a kid who was being collected by a friend).
BUT. Anything can happen in a matter of seconds – and then how long until an adult in charge notices your childs’ absence?
I’m so so scared of losing my child. She is everything. She is all I have left.