To say it has been a crazy week in our household would be an understatement. Both Mommy and Daddy are on the mends after some health issues. Thus, it finally dawned on me Thursday morning that Mother’s Day is Sunday and we have no gifts for our amazing moms! So after picking up our 1st grader from school the girls and I went directly to the mall to get Mother’s Day gifts.
It started off as a fun adventure! See I never go to the mall (full disclosure: I get most clothes from Costco’s or second-hand) so as soon as we walked in our toddler was in awe of all the lights, music, shiny jewelry displays, perfumes, variety of stores (including The Disney Store) we even walked pasted a child on a bungee cord and trampoline (which had my mommy nerves on edge), she was mesmerized by all the commotion. At one point she got so distracted she ran into a display. She was adorable! Our 1st grader on the other hand saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring up a store called Justice and why it wasn’t fair that she didn’t get clothes from there. Thankfully when we arrived at Things Remembered the conversation ended and the innocence of childhood came back. I witnessed it as the girls’ exclaimed the beauty they saw in the music boxes, carousels, etc. It was at that moment that I let my guard down. For the first time, like EVER, I didn’t have to worry about a child breaking anything. The girls were so gentle, even the 2-1/2 yrs. old. Watching them look at the fragile objects around them and eagerly wanting me to see the beauty they saw aroused such a joy within me…daughters! They speak a different language than a son and it was as if we just uttered our first words to each other. This was clearly the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
To commemorate the moment and make it extra special, we stopped in the food court and got daddy a shake and one for the girls to split. It was perfect! We window shopped as we strolled along the storefronts while the girls exchanged smiles and sips from their shake. Did I mention it was perfect? After a VERY long week I felt like this was my ‘mommy reward’ for job well done.
Then it happened……
As we approached the exit my 1st grader was to my left holding a shake. I was holding my toddler’s hand and my hubby’s shake in the other. We carelessly walked out. See, I am usually on guard. I normally have my keys out ready to go and my ‘don’t mess with me’ highly alerted mommy sensory on sentinel. I don’t know if it was the meds, the moment, or a combination of both but I was not prepared for what happened next.
Out of nowhere a black SUV goes flying past us then bust a u-ey and jumped the curb almost hitting my toddler in the process. It all happened so fast and yet it felt like an eternity in my mind. I stood frozen and the air failed to escaped my lungs while images from movies passed through my head….a van pulling up and grabbing girls to never be seen again….the abduction scene from Taken…the girls from Cleveland who were recently in the news. Then I felt this coldness come over me, like I was being watched, and then the SUV took off like a bat out of hell. I exhaled. What just happened?
It’s not just in the movies, and it doesn’t only happen overseas. Human trafficking is a serious problem locally. Toledo is fourth in the nation for the most arrests and prosecutions of human trafficking. http://www.13abc.com/story/21291908/toledo-ranks-4th-in-human-trafficking
Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Memphis, New York, and Toledo, OH have all become major centers in the global human trafficking industry. In fact, the FBI has listed Toledo (my hometown) as one of the top recruiting cities for human trafficking in North America. http://joeforamerica.com/2013/05/kidnapped-not-just-in-cleveland/
Was that SUV somehow affiliated with human trafficking? Did that driver think I was younger than I was? Is that what that weird eerie pause was before they took off? Did they think we were 3 younger girls leaving the mall? I was wearing a crappy skort, t-shirt, sandals, and hair in ponytail; perhaps they didn’t get a close enough view of the cellulite on my thighs from behind? I don’t know what exactly happened or why but I do know it was a huge wake-up call for me to NEVER let my guard down, EVER!!!
Here are some great articles I came across to help you and your children stay safe. And remember, crime doesn’t wait till you feel better…if you don’t feel well and you can’t be ‘on guard’ don’t go! Nothing is worth the life of you or your children!