July 5, 2011

She Came Home Without One

     Our children grow up with our likes and dislikes.  They learn to embrace what we do and often fear what we fear.  But what if your fear is based on a personal experience and unfortunately effects thier lives?
     I grew up on Long Island.  The neighborhood had maybe 20 houses and no other streets feeding it.  Brook wasn't a tight community but everyone knew each other and this is where your main group of friends came from.  There actually weren't a lot of girls on my block so I did a lot of babysitting. 
     As with most neighborhoods there was that one Mom that stood out as the coolest.  Ours was Mrs. Clark.  She was the mom of three boys and I alwasy thought how sad it was she didn't have a girl because she was so crafty and just sweet.  It wasn't uncommon for the Clarks to take a group of the neighborhood boys with them wherever they went.  Their house, cars and hearts were always open.
     Then it happened.  In the summer before my senior year tragedy hit our small neighborhood.  Mrs. Clark took a bunch of boys to the beach.  A storm came out of no where.  Despite lifeguards and the boys being strong swimmers Mrs. Clark came home one boy short.  His body was never found.  I will never forget watching Mr and Mrs. Clark walk home after talking to the boy's parents.  I had never seen devastation on someone's face before.
     Being the family's babysitter I pretty much lived there for a while.  The parents and most of the neighborhood spent days at the beach searching for thier son.  I stayed behind to help with their younger two children and to update family members as they called. The Catholic Church has a special mass for children and I hope no parent ever has to have it said. 
     As you can imagine this tragedy had quite an effect on our small community.  It was years before Mrs. Clark was herself again.  I was surprised to learn while in college that the family had another child and named him for their lost son.  They never moved away.
      Fast forward some 20 years.  We live in Florida about 30 minutes from the beach. My kids know the rule.  They're not happy about it but they know it just the same.  They may not go to the beach unless I am with them.  Is this irrational?  Of course I don't think so.  While my kids know the story of why I have this rule being typical teenagers they believe they are indestructible and that could never happen to them. When the youth group at church goes to the beach I go along, they always need drivers anyway.
     This really wasn't so much of a problem when they were younger.  Most families I know usually don't take a group of kids in addition to their own to the beach.  But now their friends are driving and they want to go to the beach for the day.  Em's in college how can I really tell her not to go to the beach with her friends!
      We went to lunch Friday to celebrate Sail Academy Graduation and one of the moms asked if I spent the week worrying about Patrick and the water.  Surprisingly I didn't.  In fact it didn't even occur to me to be worried as they were on the River not in the ocean. 

     So I have this fear based on an intense experience~ when do I just let go?


  1. Maybe never. How old are they? Mine are 11 and the ocean scares the death out of me. I guess I will have to let them go eventually - them driving a car scares me too - but we are not there yet and I can justify keeping a close eye on them. I am not overprotective by any means but the story you describe is horrendous to contemplate. Sorry for the shameless plug (not my intention) but I have a very important related blog post called 4 Heartstopping Myths on Drowning Every Responsible Parent Should Know that has been shared over 300 times. Very valuable information.

  2. Just as soon as this got published my youngest was invited to a beach b'day party and the paretns would provide transportation... um NOPE.

    I'll be driving next week when our youth group goes to the beach as well. I know I have to let go someday and lots of areas I have but still gonna hang onto this one for a while

  3. I'm very sorry you had to go through something like that. I can only imagine how powerless you must feel at times.

    It'd be good to sit down with your children and explain how you feel.(You don't mention if you have so I'm assuming that you haven't)

    I wasn't allowed to go anywhere without my mother if it was 20 miles away from my house. 20 miles isn't much so I was always with her. I started stretching the truth because I felt it was so unfair.

    I still don't know why my mom still has that rule with my younger brothers. Try explaining it so your kids won't resent you for it.

    Best of luck!

  4. Thank you Dial Doctors. After your comment I went back and added a line to my post. The kids are aware of why I have this rule. We have had a very open conversation about it. I am very permissive in other areas so I feel this one rule is well balanced with the rest.


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)
It there's something you'd like to share privately please email me at

Have a Glorious Day!