Ten years old. Ten years old is a gap-toothed, not quite teenager but not quite little kid, age. In between, right on the edge of both, ten is that age where we start letting our kids spread their wings a little. Jessica Ridgeway, a ten year old girl, disappeared on Friday morning, three blocks from her elementary school. Her mom watched her walk towards the park, where she met her friends for the short walk to Witt Elementary. No friend ever saw her at the park, and she never made it to her fourth grade classroom.
Yesterday, Jessica's water bottle and backpack were found in Superior, about six miles from the site where she was last seen by her mother. This moved the search, which included over eight hundred volunteers on Saturday, to a new location. Bloodhounds and police were seen combing the area yesterday, cars and homes were being searched, and people were trying to help in any way possible.
Statistically, stranger abduction is rare, and it rarely ends well. In keeping up with this story, I keep thinking about the little girl from Pueblo, who was kidnapped and then freed herself at a gas station in Colorado Springs. I keep thinking about that happy ending and hoping the same thing happens with Jessica. I find myself checking and rechecking the news, hoping for something good for Jessica and her family.
My son is ten years old. He veers between wanting to do engineering projects and talking about algebraic equations and wanting to watch Spongebob or cuddle up on the couch with a read-aloud book. Ten teeters on the fence between big kid and little kid- still preferring velcro tennis shoes but maybe needing deodorant. I let him walk from school occasionally. I leave him for fifteen minutes while I drop his sister off at her high school. He proufly walks from the house to his karate dojo and back- less than a block, but it was still a milestone for us. I may or may not have snuck to watch, to make sure he used the crosswalk correctly. I want to smother him with protection and love, but I find myself slowly nudging him to fly freely a little bit more. Jessica's disappearance has me questioning whether I should give him the ability to spread his wings or if I should keep him in the nest a bit longer.
We are definitely talking about protecting ourselves, being aware of our surroundings, and being cognizant of people (both aquaintances and strangers). These are tihngs I have taken for granted and let slip by the way until this weekend. Jessica's disappearance is a wakeup call for all of us, one that I truly hope has a happy ending.
Are you guys watching? Have you heard anything more this morning? Are you talking about this or about safety with your kids, and if so, how?