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I thought they were adorable. Each one of our (then) eight children were dressed in matching outfits. The year was 1992, and the bright neon colors of the 1980s were still in full swing.
We were on our way to a parade. Not just to watch, but to participate. It was a gigantic world wide celebration; cities all over the world were hosting these parades called “March for Jesus.”
I made each one of the girls an adorable short ruffled jumper. They had a black background with bright red, green, and yellow neon print of popcorn, hotdogs, and cotton candy. Each wore a different color of tee-shirt underneath, with matching anklet socks and ribbons streaming from their pigtails. My oldest daughter got into the spirit and made a matching hat and scarf for her dog out of our left over scraps of material. The boys, their father and I, all wore matching red tee-shirts; I imagine we were quite a sight.
We arrived at the parade and were ready to take our place in line when my son noticed a stand just outside the entrance that was selling event tee-shirts — white tee-shirts. To my young son, this posed a problem; we stood out. Here was our family dressed in bright colors in a sea of white. I, on the other hand, remained undaunted (and too cheap to buy ten new tee-shirts). Little did he know there was a method to my madness.
Nevertheless, my motives for dressing the children alike were the least of his concerns. Being a self-conscious adolescent, the only thing on his mind was the fact that we were breaking a cardinal rule-we stood out in a crowd.
“Mom, everyone is looking at us!” the boy said in dismay.
“Don’t be silly.” I said as I smiled at the nice family who stopped to pet our dog.
“Mom, I’m not kidding. If one more person stops to say how “cute” we are… I’m out of here.”
Then, it happened. A sweet older couple stopped to coo at the baby, and used the dreaded c-word again in my son’s presence-the boy walked ten feet behind us the rest of the day.
Although red shirts still bring back memories, my children are now naturally doing the same thing when taking their families into a crowded place.
By dressing them in bright colors I could spot one at a distance should one stray. Also, as an added benefit and (more crucial today) we looked alike. Most everyone passing by noticed that we all belonged together by the way we were dressed. My hope was that would make us a less likely target for anyone looking to steal a child. Plus, if we lost one, anyone who had passed us earlier would recognize the crying child and know what the group looked like that she (or he) belonged to; a priceless insurance policy. Not to mention, I had five girls in a row; it was just plain fun to dress them up.
It seems that there are more and more headlines with little girls’ names followed by the word “missing.” That is truly a parent’s worst nightmare.
While every parent would certainly prevent an abduction if they could, we need to at least look at some of the circumstances that would make an abduction easy.
First, a child’s bedroom mustn’t be seen from the street. If it is, and can’t be helped, it needs to have heavy curtains so that no one can see from outside that it is a child’s room.
Before buying or renting a house, go to www.familywatchdog.us to see if sex offenders would be living near you.
Cell phones now have GPS, and many have a “chaperone” feature that can be set to alert you if your child leaves the area you designate.
Children are not always happy about our protective measures. We embarrass them with our fussing at times, but that shouldn’t matter or detour us. We live in a time where missing children posters line the entrance of stores; the very least we can do to protect our children from the wolves that seek to devour them is not allow them to be easy prey.