Who’s Responsible for the Children?

Where we lived, we had pond. 
When we moved there, the boys were 4, 2 and one coming.
My husband built a zip-line over it so the boys could fly  and drop into the pond.
Every summer we swam in that pond—every day. Those 100’ days were meant to swim. I watched from the edge. Taught them how to swim from the side. Only allowed them in the deep part when they mastered swimming.
Before the toddler mastered walking, I'd be grabbing their arm and raising them out from their sputtering fall. I'd hold them close, only until they felt confident to try it again. We'd both be drenched and dripping, but they knew I would be close and watching.
But the boys knew they weren’t allowed close to the pond unless I was watching. 

That pond could be a source of fun but it also came with danger.
Over 4,000 children drown every year in the United States. (
Not because they weren’t loved, but because they weren’t watched.

One morning while I was nursing, one of the boys came running to tell me his brother was heading toward the pond.
I ran out, the other brother had the culprit by his shirt and was trying to drag him away from the pond. 
That son was given something to remind him more clearly that the pond was not safe unless I was there.
I was thankful for the two who knew the rule and knew I had to be there and saved his brother.
In all our years, we had no other incident.
Even when they were teenagers and could swim alone, they waited for me to watch or swam in pairs.
People asked if I ever swimmed.
“Not when I’m watching.”
Can’t do both.

There were times when visiting others, the little ones would play in someone’s jacuzzi. It had a wide ledge all the way around it. They could stand and jump. But the center was deep and over their head. There were times they’d jump to the center. But I’d be there to grab them, not before they were dunked and gasping.
It happens quickly. Too fast to look away. Too urgent to be distracted.

There were times while watching at the pond, when I had to leave the pond. Everyone had to leave the pond until I returned. 
Some asked, “Why can’t you leave your oldest to watch?”
That’s not a responsibility that I should delegate.  
Would I want him to feel the burden of a mishap?
I don’t live in the “what if’s” but that responsibility should never be my sons, because the results are too heavy. 
It is mine to bear. 

We went to swimming parties.
I’d be amazed to see unsupervised children having a great time in the pool.
Insurance companies know the danger.
Don’t they charge for that risk?
Yet why do parents gamble with their children over a risk that is real?

Everyone does not have a pool or a pond to worry about. 
And that is good.
But there are other dangers that parents must be diligent about.

When the boys were learning to drive, (a high risk in itself), they were allowed to move the truck from the garage where they unloaded hay and feed to the front of our house. (The garage was detached and down a hill.)
The rule was “Make sure the little ones were inside the house.”
No one can see over the hood of the truck as they came up that hill.
A wagon was run over once. So were other things. Those were replaceable.
But not children.
We put safeguards up to avoid the possibility.

I felt very alone while constantly watching my children
When we were at family functions, the boys wanted to ride their bikes. I'd be out front watching them, not talking with the adults in the back of the house.
When we'd go to a Mennonite picnics, the community watched their children.
'd see their toddlers being carried around by a 10 year old "babysitter." 
I'd cringe when they put them on the table, and the toddler would stumble and almost fall to the cement floor below. They didn't know his feet weren't stable.
Other times, the babysitter would grow tired and go play. Not sure who had the baby then. 
Their work days were spent with men working, like on a roof, with little ones running below, with no supervision.
No one was instructing them on tool safety or  accident prevention. 
I'd hear of tragic accidents in their community. I didn't have to wonder, "How?"
It was sad, because it might have been prevented, if some mom had watched.
When a community watches your child, no one does.

When I went grocery shopping, I had all the boys on the side of the car where I was getting out the baby.
They had to stand by the back tire.
It was quite the group because I took all of them grocery shopping.
Being boys, they inevitably touched the tire and had black hands. That was better than me not seeing them.
When we journeyed from the car to the store, if they weren’t in the cart, they were holding my hand or touching the cart.
Because drivers don’t see little people.
I drilled that into their little heads.
When one threw a tantum because he didn’t want his hand held, I held his wrist and walked. 
There are too many dangers in the parking lot to give ground on that rule.

Some dangers are not the crazy drivers who aren’t watching for little people.
They are the people who are watching for little people.
And for the parent who is distracted and not watching.

Child trafficking is real…in the United States.
Missing children rises. Many never found.
Death may be better than the hell they live.

I had a shopping rule even when the boys got older, “If I can’t see you, you’re wrong.”
Shopping is a major distraction for parents.
Often I returned home and wondered at my purchases, though I thought I was sticking to my list.
I can’t think clearly.
I have to count heads, make sure the boys are right there. and the three grocery carts are not running into anything and the baby is happy.  
And get the food we needed for a month.
I did things to help avoid that danger:
I went shopping as early as I could. The crowds are less. The parking is easier.
Minimize the danger.
Use safeguards to prevent it. And be diligent to watch.

Joey tells of a soldier who was in charge of Disney World’s security.
He tells parents, “If you are ever missing your child, do not look for them. Immediately go to a worker.
They will take you to an underground maze of cameras.
They tell you, ‘Watch the exit. Do not look for your child’s clothes, hair coloring, or what they were carrying—Just the face.
Within minutes, some have found their child.
Their clothes were changed, their hair cut and colored, and they were carried happily by a stranger.”

Child trafficking is real here.

I caution my teenager to be aware of his surroundings.
He rolls his eyes. 
The danger is for him too.

My son recently told me of an ambulance run he had.
The twenty-year girl had overdosed on medications her boyfriend had given her.
She didn't know the date, day, month, anything. No cards, no phone, nothing to allow her any contact with the world. 
The boyfriend wanted to ride with them in the ambulance. That's not allowed.
He told them to take her to a certain hospital.
When in the ambulance away from the boyfriend, she was asked where she wanted to go. It was not that hospital.
She was assigned to a social worker to help her escape.

If parenting is not hard enough…
The evil of our world creeps into our families at remarkable speeds.
Nor can we, as parents, do it all.
Makes us feel powerless.
But we are not alone in this daunting task.
In our great need, look to God.
God isn’t surprised by the evil.
Nor is He powerless against the evil.
He gives parents answers.

"​Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walkers about, seeking whom he may devour." I Peter 5:8

Parents be watchful.
As grandparents, we also feel powerless to help. 
Pray. It’s a powerful tool that yields protection and strength.

Who's responsible for the children?
God has given them to parents.
There's no room for slackers or distractions.

Displaying 1 comment

Very powerful message, very scary message. Makes us realize how much we all must be on our guard when responsible for children. We lost Jason at Disneyland once, he must have been three. Didn't know this suggestion then, we looked and finally went to the lost and found, and found him there. I was SO scared, frantic, terrified, everything. It only takes a minute to lose a child. Thanks Sonya for the reminder, we need it often for we can become careless.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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