Before I had children, I took a class in child development. During one of the lectures, my instructor was talking about “stranger danger”.
She said that it is important for us to teach our children not to talk to strangers. But that if you ask a child to draw a picture of a “stranger”, they would draw a picture of a monster. You see, children don’t understand that strangers look like your next door neighbor.
So, when the boys were young, I was very protective. I made them keep one hand on the cart when we were in the store, escorted them into the women’s bathroom (sometimes to their embarrassment), and held their hands as they crossed the street.
As they grew, I insisted on the buddy system, curfews, and rules about checking in. I brought them to karate and trained with them even when they didn’t really want to be there.
So here I am. Living with the knowledge that I couldn’t protect my son the one time he needed me most.
And I don’t have a face to put to the crime. Does this monster look like my neighbor? Every new face makes me wonder… Even familiar faces can be hiding this secret.
This monster blends in. Someone out there recognizes the person who murdered my son.
If they get away with it this time, I guarantee they will do it again.