On Monday, I experienced probably my most frightening experience since becoming a parent. I was in a meeting when I received a phone call from my daughter’s school, asking for a return call. I was immediately concerned because her school has never before called my office number. When I returned the call, I received chilling news. My daughter was safe and fine, however there had been suspicious behavior at the school. An unidentified young man had approached the window of my daughter’s classroom (her classroom is on ground floor of the building), and requested to pick her up from school. It was definitely initially troubling to hear that a stranger had asked for my daughter by name.
Back to the story, the teacher pointed and asked my daughter if she knew this young man, and of course my daughter replied confidently that she did not. Her teacher, thankfully followed protocol, calling the office and the office proceeded to call myself and the police. The young man was unable to get into the building because he lacked a parental code, so my daughter was safe. The young man ended up leaving the school grounds, speeding away in his vehicle, rather than attempting to enter the building through the main office. Later when the detective arrived, they were able to catch the young man’s car and hopefully license plate on the security cameras so I believe he will be apprehended soon.
When I first received the phone call, even though the school assured me that my daughter was in fact safe, the first thing I wanted to do was immediately go check for myself. I needed to see her face and hold her in my arms. And the protective nature in me wanted to find this young man and mess him up (that’s the nicest way I can put it). Since I was further way in midtown at my office, I called grandma, and expected her to beat me to the school to pick up my daughter. Then, I canceled my remaining meetings for the afternoon and sped to her school. It was surreal. The entire time driving there, the worst possible scenarios attempted to flood my mind. What if this stranger came back? Why did he choose my daughter? How did he know her name? Could this be an honest mistake of some sort (there is in fact another child at my daughter’s school with the same name and her parents were also called and alarmed).
When I arrived and talked with the detective, administration, and finally the teacher, I learned that it appeared that the young man probably simply read her name from the wall and choose her randomly. The other family with my daughter’s namesake also didn’t know the young man. As I rushed over to my daughter’s classroom (I beat grandma there after all- imagine that), she ran to greet me at the door as she usually does when I pick her up. The amazing thing is that she seemed totally unfazed by the day’s events. It’s so wonderful how oblivious children can be. I later asked her if she’d been scared, and she told me nope, because she was brave. That’s my baby girl!
At the end of the day, with my wife in tears, and honestly everyone shaken by the situation, all I could express was gratitude. I am thankful that daily we cover our children with protective prayers, never knowing what might be in store for them, but knowing the One who does. I am thankful that despite being jaded by the dark elements of society, I still trust and have hope in the goodness of God to filter through mankind. I saw it in action Monday with my daughter’s teacher who cares enough about Riley to guard her as if she were her own. I saw it in her school who took precautions necessary to ensure that all students were protected. I saw it in my daughter’s eyes when I hugged her that day, and she looked up just as innocent and naive as can be, simply content to be with her daddy.
For parents, the stark reality is that we can’t be with our children 24/7 (and we wouldn’t want to be either). That means we can’t always be there to protect them or help them make the right decisions. But we can help them be prepared, and we can maintain our own peace of mind by entrusting our children to God to protect (as He’s entrusted them to us to raise). I don’t know what you trust in your household, but as for me and my house, we will trust the Lord. He’s never failed us yet.