The Day My Daughter Thought We Were Being Followed

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I’ll be the first to admit I give my kids Ted Talks during our drives. Of course, this is AFTER I’m done with my car-choreography…because I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.

(For those of you who didn’t get the Mean Girls reference, please don’t delete me.)

What exactly are the subjects of my Talks? Well, they range in topic and could sound anything like this:  

“If a classmate is eating alone, sit with them.”

“The meaning of WAP?? It stands for Worship and Praise. Carry on, my child.”

“Always be aware of your surroundings – when walking to your car, jogging, or getting into an elevator.”

From simple life lessons to more serious issues, such as telling them tricks predators use to lure kids close, I’m regularly pontificating while I drive.

And it took a bone-chilling incident to affirm that some of what I’m saying might be sinking in.

The day after Christmas, my kids asked to go to the mall. Allegedly the youths love the mall and this is where the pre-teen glow-up begins. So I begrudgingly acquiesced, and off we went.

We grabbed a bite at the food court and, while teens strutted by in groups, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were safe…if the lone adults casually walking by were watching them like prey.

It’s sad that moms are now trained to think this way. That we must always be cognizant of trafficking techniques and watch our little ones more closely than ever.

Once we finished eating, we browsed a bit more and decided to head home. We went through Macy’s, down the escalator, and, right before we exited, I purposely stopped and “looked for my keys.” I did this to let a man go in front of us.

The man slowly sauntered past – almost to the point of lingering – as if waiting for us to leave too, and then he finally walked to his car…without any bags.

That’s when my daughter said, “Mom, I was gonna stop too, because I think that man was following us!”

I have never felt more proud – because I had silently been conscious of the same thing.

This might have explained why she held my hand a few minutes prior. As I’d always preached, she was paying attention to her surroundings.

Had the man really been following us? Maybe not. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, as we had parked in the same area of the mall.

But the fact that my 9-year old’s internal alarms were going off in the same manner as mine, an adult, told me her instincts are functioning properly.

It also solidified that I’m doing the right thing by talking to my children about how to stay alert, physically protect themselves, and never dismiss their intuitive responses to a situation.

On the way home I commended my daughter, then reminded both kids that the “bad guys” are not usually dressed in black, lurking in a van. They are so often the clean cut, charming individuals that know how to manipulate and make you drop your guard.

If you take anything away from this story, I hope you will go forth and talk to your kids, even if it’s just while they’re stuck with you in the car.

They may roll their eyes, but I promise they’re listening.

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