The year my brother was born we moved to a three-bedroom apartment. During my mom's pregnancy she craved grape bubble gum and Peach Hi-C. She would send me on an errand and I felt like a big girl. I was "mommy's big helper".
I bought the grape bubble gum from the Old Man store and the Hi-C from Piggly Wiggly. Once my brother was born, I started riding the school bus home.
I can clearly remember an evening that I walked to the dumpster with a bag of dirty diapers. I was approached by a neighbor who I thought was harmless. Yet when he asked, "Can I have a hug?", I knew it was inappropriate and I ran home. I was seven years old.
I was one of the lucky ones. With the news as it is today, I could write a book on what could have happened.
Time frame 1978
- before the Atlanta Child Murders
- before Adam Walsh
- before "Don't talk to strangers" lessons
- before all the right in the world went wrong
Christopher and I were in Wal-Mart. I had to return something and we had to pick up a few things. While I was standing in line for the return, I commented that I forgot to get a cart. Christopher said, "I'll go get it." I said, "No way, I don't want anybody to snatch you up." He gave me the 'really mom?' look.
That's a parent's mindset now. When I was younger than Christopher, I would be with my grandmother in a Wal-Mart like store. She would be buying a month worth of groceries and I would be clear on the other side of the store in the toy section. I won't allow Christopher to be an aisle over without me.
There was a time when I could buy candy from an old man. I could skip to the grocery store in ten minutes. I could take the trash out at night without a worry. I could be on opposite sides of the store from my grandmother.
Here's the thing... It was a freedom that our children will never know and a freedom as parents we will never be able to give.