The story of little Leiby Kletzky, the 9-year-old boy who went missing on his walk home from day camp in Brooklyn, has officially entered the zone of parental nightmares. Cops are reporting they have found Leiby's body. Or rather, pieces of Leiby's dismembered body.
Some sicko has cut up the Orthodox Jewish child and left his remains behind in a refrigerator for his parents to bury. It's the sort of news that could send a parent over the edge, and I wouldn't blame the Kletzkys for burrowing into their grief today. They must be full of "what ifs."
According to reports, their 9-year-old begged his mom to be allowed to walk home from day camp. He usually rode the bus, but his parents wrote a letter to camp that said he wouldn't be climbing on board. He was supposed to meet his mom at 5 p.m., but he never showed.
I'm not his mom or dad, but I think a normal parent would sit there wondering: What if I didn't give in? What if I made him ride the bus? What if I went to school that day and picked him up? What if we'd picked another day camp? What if we opted to keep him home this summer? What if we went on vacation this week? What if ... what if ... what if.
We can't live in what if land. As parents, we need to think about the consequences of our actions, but we can't see around every corner. Plenty of 9-year-olds wander around the streets with nary a problem, and on the flip side, plenty of bus accidents occur in America. There's no way to anticipate a creep grabbing a sweet little boy off of our neighborhood streets, taking him home, and dismembering him, then placing him in the refrigerator. If that thought went through our minds, frankly, we as parents would be paralyzed, unable to function. We need, instead, to be cautious but optimistic in life. That's the best way, the only way (?) to give our kids the cliched roots and wings.
Police have taken a man named Levi Aron into custody, a man who lived in the home where little Leiby's body was found. Here's hoping he's the guy who did this and that police can convict him, so the Kletzky family can at least find justice for their child.
Has this story stopped you cold today?
Image via RowdyKittens/Flickr