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Children / Events / Motherhood

It’s better to be safe (and appear crazy) than sorry…

Do you believe in Instinct? Do you believe in the validity behind that funny feeling you get in your stomach when you just know something isn’t right? Do you act on it, or do you convince yourself that you’re being crazy?

It doesn’t make rational sense. It isn’t logical. You’re probably just being silly…or so you tell yourself. But what if you’re not?

Back in May of 2008, I had something really freaky happen. It was so powerful that I’ve remembered it all this time. I didn’t write about it on the blog, because part of me was scared: scared that people would roll their eyes and call me crazy, scared that I would inadvertently give people the wrong impression of our neighborhood, scared of what could have happened. And, if truth be told, I was still kicking myself for not getting a license plate number. How many Law & Order episodes have I logged?! Entirely too many, if you ask my husband, but not enough to remember something as simple as that.

It was a day like any other. The sun was shining, and Claire and I had been on a mission to the grocery store. As we were heading home, we were waiting at a stop sign by our house, and this car drives by, all slow. There were two youngish guys (my age or a little younger), and I’d never seen them before. They looked a little rough. I know looks aren’t everything, but they made me very uneasy.

The first thought I had was, “Why aren’t they at work?” Ironically enough, I had just quit my work-from-home-job a few months before, but in my mind it was different. These two didn’t fit the “stay at home mom” description. Maybe they have the day off, my rational side said. Maybe they work nights.

The second thought I had was, “Why are they driving so slowly, and why are they looking over everything in such detail? Are they casing the joint?” Like I said, I’ve watched too many Law & Order shows. Maybe they’re just out for a drive, crazy lady. My rational side is sometimes blunt.

I was forced to turn and follow them, because they were going the same way I was.

Then, to my surprise, they turned onto our cul-de-sac. Immediately, I thought about not turning. I thought about driving around the block. Then, I couldn’t believe I was being so silly. They were probably driving slowly and looking at everything, because they were trying to find a specific address, and it can be confusing if you’ve never been in our neighborhood. So, I decided to turn up our street, but I wouldn’t open our garage door until the coast was clear. The last thing I wanted to do was announce to the world that I was home alone with my daughter, which would be abundantly clear when they saw the empty garage, with my husband’s car gone.

I had just completed this mental conversation when I saw them PULL INTO MY DRIVEWAY and park.

Into MY driveway. In front of MY garage door.

At this moment, I tried not to freak out. What was I going to do now!? I had to do something. I couldn’t pull in beside them. I was too terrified of a confrontation. I couldn’t assume that this whole situation was innocent. I just couldn’t. My gut was screaming at me. And, I believe in Instinct.

I continued on up our street, my mind reeling. If none of our neighbors were out, I’d circle the loop and drive away. How long would I stay away? Where would I go? How do I do this without alarming my very observant toddler?  I hadn’t thought all of that out yet.

As I got to the top of the hill, I saw one of our neighbors in her garage. I pulled into her driveway. I was able to explain the whole story in a voice that belied my mental state. “I don’t want to alarm Claire,” I whispered under my breath. She understood. I told her about the men waiting at my house. We could see them from where we were. They never got out of the car. They never got out a map. They sat there for what seemed like an eternity (but in reality was about 7 minutes), and then they left. They backed right out of my driveway and went on their way.

My neighbor offered to come home with me, but I declined. She offered to give me the code to her garage so that if I ever felt threatened again, I could pretend that I lived in her house, but I declined.

She’d taken me seriously, and that was what I needed at that moment to keep it all together.

I spent the rest of the day feeling very jittery and on the verge of tears. Every rustle of the leaves outside had me leaping to my feet and peeking out the windows. I hated feeling so freaked out. I hated not knowing why they’d stopped at my house. I hated not knowing what they were up to. Part of me felt like a complete wussy being afraid of two poor guys who hadn’t even done anything wrong, and the other part of me believed in Momma Instincts, which would start the jittery feelings again.

So, why am I sharing this story now?  Because I went to a seminar last week where I realized that it’s better to be safe (and appear crazy) than sorry…

CSE - Smaller LogoLast week, my MOMS Club hosted a wonderful speaker by the name of Barbara Scott. She works with Colorado Safety Educators, and we’d invited her to speak to the moms in our group about personal safety issues. She was personable, down to earth, and an engaging speaker. (Above photo and logo credits: Barbara Scott)

She had each of us write a safety concern we had on a 3×5 card, and then she addressed each one of them in the course of her hour-long seminar.

I’ve taken self-defense courses in the past, but none of them have addressed the specific needs of moms. It takes 2-seconds for your child to take your mind off of your surroundings, and some attackers look for that.  What would you do if you were attacked? What would you do if you found yourself in a situation that you just knew wasn’t right? Do you know what attackers look for in victims? Do you know some simple things you can do to check yourself off of the would-be-attacker’s list? What are some simple self-defense things you can teach your children?

Barbara Scott’s Safety Seminar was wonderful and answered all of these questions and more.  I highly recommend it. Barbara meets with a variety of different groups.  If you have a moms club, parent or teacher or employer group, church organization, or even a community group, you should check out Barbara’s website and talk to her about doing a seminar for you. Her contact information can be found by clicking here. You can also email her for more information at [email protected].

Barbara’s tips are simple and easy to implement. In fact, I started using them right away.

I left that seminar feeling more confident than I ever have. I left that seminar armed with the knowledge of what it takes to keep my child and myself safe. I left that seminar knowing that I’m not crazy when something doesn’t seem “right.”

What about you? Have you ever felt threatened? What did you do?

Author: JoAnn

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  1. Wow, JoAnn. That IS scary and I would have handled it the same way as you.

    I’m pretty paranoid about keeping our doors locked. Our house backs to an acreage where a guy runs his paving business. There are tons of unsavory characters in and out of that lot all the time. It makes me nervous to send my kids into our backyard unless I’m close by.

    The seminar sounds fantastic and something we all need!

  2. What a story! I would have been on the phone with 911 as soon as they pulled up to my house. I don’t mind appearing crazy in the least, man!

    Hey, have you ever read the book The Gift of Fear? It’s all about learning to trust your intuition. It’s an amazing read! It’s all about this sort of situation, too. Check it out!

  3. I would say I might border on paranoia, so I am always trying to be aware of who is in my neighborhood. I am not afraid to call the cops or jot down a license plate of suspicious vehicles. You can’t be too safe, especially when we have small children.

    I would totally be interested in taking that class. I’ll have to see if other moms in my area are keen too.

  4. My heart was pounding(and still is) the whole time I was reading this. We have a security alarm and at first I felt like it instilled fear in me. However, I’ve realized that it’s made me think through what actions I would take if someone ever did break in. I may have a mental plan, but a a seminar would still be a great thing for me. Thanks for sharing JoAnn!

  5. I, too, would have had the dialog between my minimizing mind (I’m sure 3 thuggish-looking guys in my driveway for 7 minutes means nothing) and my intuitive mind (“Danger, Will Robinson!”)

    I think you were very smart in handling it.

    Sounds like a great class for moms!

  6. What a scary situation. Thanks for reminding everyone.

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