A chilling missing child case in Tucson, Arizona has one set of parents terrified that they'll never see their 6-year-old daughter again. And here's betting the search for Isabel Mercedes Celis will make bedtime harder for parents across the nation tonight. Can you imagine putting your first grader to bed at night, then waking up in the morning to find her gone?
I don't want to imagine it. But I guess I can. Parents have to sleep. And -- like it or not -- that means we have to give up a little bit of control.
But the way Tucson Police are describing Isabel's last moments before her disappearance strikes right at the fear that exists in all of us over those hours when we're passed out in our beds. They say her parents last saw her around 11 p.m. on Friday night before they went to bed. But when they got up at 8 a.m., they told police, she was gone.
Within 15 minutes, they'd called the cops, but despite a day and a half of searching, so far they've come up with nothing. Right now police say Isabel could have been kidnapped, or she could have walked off by herself.
I'm ashamed to admit I'm neurotic enough to have pondered both over the years. Cases like that of Elizabeth Smart -- the Utah teenager kidnapped from her own bedroom a decade ago -- have made me manic about locking the windows and doors of my house. And I won't lie. The day my daughter learned how to unlock and open a door was bittersweet. I wanted to be proud of her dexterity, but all I could think of was the child in my area who was found dead outside her own home a few years back. She'd left the house in the middle of the night, but couldn't make her way back in, and her parents were sleeping through the whole thing, innocently unaware that their child was dying of exposure.
Now we have Isabel Celis. She's this tiny little girl -- just under 4 feet tall, 44 pounds. And she's gone, seemingly disappeared into thin air. It's hard not to want to grab our babies and not let them go until Tucson police give us an answer.
I refuse to be one of those helicopter parents who is so afraid to allow their child some breathing room that they have a 6-year-old sleeping in a trundle bed in their own room. But if we completely ignore these types of news stories, we do so at our own peril -- there's usually something worth learning from them. I'm just hoping that what we learn from Isabel Celis' case comes after she's found safe and sound.
What are your biggest fears when you put your kids to bed for the night?