Summer family fun includes outdoor movie nights at the park, theme parks, and parades. All of which mean parents of young children worry about keeping everyone together and safe. Few things are more frightening than losing a child in a crowd.
Imagine taking five, six, or seven little ones out into a major theme park. Scary proposition, right? It was for me. Nothing terrifies me more than the thought of someone snatching up a child in a crowd. Of course as soon as they are out of your sight, that’s the first thought that comes to mind — at least it was mine.
When my children were young, I read somewhere that predators look for children that have unkempt hair and clothes that look like they’ve been worn for more than a day. These kids’ lack of grooming is a signal to a predator that they may not be closely tended to by an adult. They could be children receptive to extra attention, even from a stranger.
This fact made me change the way I looked at dressing my children when taking them into public gatherings. Their protection was my intent —but I created quite a memory in the process.
The first time we ventured into a large community gathering was a parade. Terrified I would lose someone, I dressed the five oldest girls in the brightest colors I could find (we had five girls in a row). Neon was rage that year, and each of the girls had matching skirts with different neon colored t-shirts. All of the girls, from the oldest to the baby in the stroller, had their hair in pigtails with matching curled ribbons.
My oldest son, my husband and I all wore red shirts, so a child who got separated could spot one of us from a distance. Everyone was a little different, but it was apparent to everyone we passed that we were all together. So much so, that we got a lot of people stopping us to say how cute everyone looked. Of course, the little girls were happy to twirl their skirts for their new admirers. However, not so much my adolescent boy.
“Oh my gosh, Mom,” he said to me with a disgusted tone.
“What?” I asked innocently.
“So help me, if one more person stops to say how ‘cute’ we are I’m…”
“Don’t be silly,” I reassured him.
“No, really, Mom. We’re cute,” he said in a tone that could have interchanged “cute” with vomit.
Then it happened. A sweet elderly lady stopped us and bent down to talk to the baby in the stroller.
“That’s it. I’m outa here.” The boy trailed behind us 20 feet for the rest of the parade, doing his best to be invisible.
What we didn’t know is that the organizers were selling white t-shirts at the starting point of the parade. So we all were bright red, neon blue, yellow, and green spots in a sea of white!
Nevertheless, everyone who passed by us knew we all belonged together.