This is not the type of post I usually write.
Nor was hers a post I normally read. MamaCusser, full of the venom and neck rolling I avoid (and if you read through the comments, you'll see why). What is ruining our kids? she asked. YOU, she responded. You, with your fear mongering parenting, who won't let your big kids out of your sight and won't let your kindergartener feed himself. You are ruining your own kids.
It's not the type of post I usually read, but I thought about it all day.
And the next day, and the next. While I don't subscribe to her method of communication, I agree with the larger point. Fear destroys people.
Fear of shame keeps us from asking the question. Fear of discomfort keeps us from trying something hard. Fear of the unknown keeps us from ever pulling out of the driveway.
As a parent, fear for our children's well-being is overwhelming, protective, and innate. But when it controls us, it harms our kids.
Several high profile murders have happened around Denver. The Columbine shootings, the Batman killings, and Jon Benet Ramsey's murder have all occurred in the wider metro area. Last fall, a young girl was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and brutally murdered on a safe suburban street. Colorado seems to be a lightning rod for evil against children. Given its history, it would be easy - intuitive, even - to put my children on lockdown.
But I refuse to be ruled by fear.
Do you remember the thrill of riding your bike as a kid? For just a few minutes, no one told you what to do or where to go. It's a tiny sip of freedom, and as a kid I reveled in it. I want my children to experience that thrill. I want them playing outside, with kids of different ages and backgrounds. I want them to deal with a little drama, learn to handle a bully by refusing to play with mean kids, learn to look out for each other when adults aren't breathing down their necks.
I won't let the things that go bump in the night - as real as they are - destroy my kids' freedom. I want my children to learn to reject fear.
Of course certain conditions make freedom possible. Our old street was too busy for children to safely ride, and had almost no one with whom they could play. In our current area, school-age kids congregate in front yards all over the neighborhood. I also have clear rules about playing outside. Don't go inside anyone's house, at all, ever (because most perpetrators are acquaintances, and I can't require a background check from every neighbor's cousin). Stick together. Stay within set boundaries. I also have a list of neighbors' numbers, and I can always text a neighbor whose yard stretches past my purview.
But ultimately, smaller streets and text messages do not put my mind at ease. I don't trust the neighborhood with my children. I trust God with them. That's a hard statement to make, because I know God loved Jon Benet too. Still, it's what I've got. It's all I've got. The only way to combat fear is to trust. Trust that God loves my kids more than I do. Just as He offers us freedom because of His love, I must do the same for my children.
Despite her snarkiness, MotherCusser was right. Fear destroys people. But trust restores them.
Well. Maybe this is the kind of post I usually write after all.