I know that we can't keep our kids safe forever. The big bad world intervenes.
I know, for example, that there are three listed pedophiles within a mile of our house. Our kids know, too. They know pictures of these guys. They know that's why they can only play in the back yard, or the front yard with adult supervision.
But Monday afternoon, something happened to completely shatter my sense of having any secure place in this world.
A boy was kidnapped from a stop on my old childhood bus route. He's still not been found. I know his mother.
I grew up in a very rural area. People think (thought) nothing of letting kids walk a half mile home from the bus stop. Most of us hunted or hiked over miles of woods alone from the age of 10. I personally would go off on my bike with a neighbor boy and we'd go for five- or six-mile rides alone at 13.
Once, I was so annoyed at my mom, I took off through the woods for a waterfall I knew was on a neighbor's property. The sounds of water plunging four feet off the precipice soothed me.
My mother was frantic when I didn't come back for an hour. She had my uncle out searching for me. Not because she feared kidnapping, but because she feared I'd be shot.
It was deer season. I was wearing a brown coat. It was, in retrospect, an incredibly stupid thing to do.
But kidnapping was miles from her mind.
Now, when my kids go with me to the farm, I'm going to think twice about letting them hike alone. My eldest is at the same age I was granted freedom to wander the 300+ acres alone.
I can't let her do that now.
And the fact that I can't just breaks my heart.