Tonawanda News


February 14, 2013

When over-reaction, isn't


Tonawanda News — But things had changed, again.

On Monday, I was sitting at the same desk when I got a new text message. Some parents in the Ken-Ton district, it said, would be getting a letter home that day. Because I have issues with curiosity, I decided to go take a look on the district website.

Words jump out at you. “Suspicious individual,” said the letter. “Police.” “Time to lock and load.” “Black hand gun.” “Be vigilant.” “Lock out.”

It’s different, as a parent. 

Your mind doesn’t go right to “how do we cover this?” Instead, it’s an almost primal reaction, a hind-brain sort of “oh my god my child’s in danger” reflex, a fight-or-flight jolt that demands that you either find the threat and rip its (profanity deleted) head off — or grab your child, hustle them home and never, ever, ever let them leave the house again

Neither, of course, is practical. After the initial fraction of a second of pure, blinding fear, I took a deep breath and got back to reality. Nothing had happened. Police had been warned. Precautions were in place. This is what’s supposed to happen. You let the authorities do their jobs.

(I still made my husband promise to call the instant our kids were home. But that’s beside the point.)

In hindsight, it looks so simple. Silly, even. Someone in a mini mart who was holding something black, who said a phrase that just might have contained five suspicious words. Could have been a wallet. Could have been something about locking himself out of his car. Who knows? We probably never will. I have this vision of a mini mart regular reading the news story the next day and thinking, “Gee, I was there right around that time! I wonder if I saw him!” — and never knowing that he was “him.”

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