There was a time when a bad neighborhood made me shrug my shoulders, hold my keys between my forefingers like they taught us in self defense, and walk with purpose. Now I hide in my car with the doors locked like a little kid.
Yeah, I'm a wuss. I blame my kid.
Like the dad who got held up by two teenagers this week in Raleigh, North Carolina while walking with his toddler in a parking lot, I know that being a parent has put a flashing light on my back that says "rob me!"
Thugs who size me up in parking lot can tell one thing about me: I'm not going to put up a fight if it means my child will be safe.
That makes a mom with her 2-year-old the prime car-jacking victim, according to a police officer I worked with regularly back during my days as a crime reporter. He didn't have any statistics to spit out at me, just years of experience seeing criminals walk up to a mom in the grocery store parking lot, tell her "give me your keys," and having her hand them over, just so he'd LEAVE her and her child alone.
Honey, I'm with you.
If you take my $100 or my engagement ring, I'll be beyond ticked off. My cop friends will have to get me to stop swearing before they can take my statement.
But I have insurance and a real job. I can make it back. Touch my daughter, and you'll be wishing I was just a Sarah Palin-type Mama Grizzly. I will go nuclear on your dumb ass.
I now have a list of places I simply won't go if my child is with me. I drive an extra 20 minutes to the other big box store that shall not be named when I'm running low on necessities.
I lock my car doors, everywhere, but especially when it's just me and her in the car. I park as close to the store as possible -- especially when it's dark.
And I got rid of the mom bag. Sorry, ladies, but it only entices a would-be purse snatcher who wonders if you're smuggling your safe in there too. Seeing how rarely you clean that thing out, you don't even know what you're losing. Five Matchbox cars? The diamond earrings you took out because the tot was yanking on them and you didn't want to lose them?
Do you feel like you're a target when your kids are with you?
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