It seems as if the world has become a very dangerous place lately. Well, actually, it’s always been a dangerous place. Think back to ancient civilizations when people were thrown to the lions, think of the all the past wars and what those living at those times were faced with and just think of the fairy tales that tell stories of children being taken away from parents like Hansel and Gretel. The world is just an unstable place, maybe with media and 24 hour news, we just know more. There has always been evil in the world along with the goodness. We just need to be prepared. It’s not a good thought, in fact, I remember as a child, in the first grade, hearing a fire alarm for the first time and panicking to the point of crying hysterically. My poor first grade teacher, Miss Dorf, had to deal with me when she had a whole classroom of other children who were probably just as scared, maybe they just didn’t show it like I did. She and a few older students very kindly consoled me but to this day, I still remember the fear I felt at that loud buzzing alarm. I was not fore warned, or at least I do not remember.

To be for warned or at least prepared, IS to be forearmed. What we see in Israel is scary to actually see what organized evil can do. However, this is not new to Israel. In many areas, children do not play outside, there are underground playgrounds. To have to go to a bomb shelter is something that happens and families are used to a siren sounding for them to take their place until the ‘All Clear’. Both young men and women who are Jewish are required to serve their country. Men serve a longer service. There are certain members of the population who are exempt from this requirement, like the Arab Muslims and Arab Christians however, they are free to serve if they wish. Also, the Haredi Jews are exempt as well. The minimum time of service is two years eight months and all who serve are eligible for the draft up until age 40, although, this week, due to the attacks, they are calling up all those eligible up to age 45. It was, before the attacks normal to see, in most public places, young soldiers out and about amongst the crowds everywhere in their fatigues, armed with machine guns.

In last week’s Teaching Tuesday post, the topic of “the role of the parent to protect their child”, still rings loud and clear still. When a school shooting occurs we all look at what can we do differently, how can we prepare better, what do we look for and we may ask ourselves “should we just home school to keep our children safe?” Maybe it’s time we take some lessons from those who do it everyday, day after day. Secret Service agents are paid to think, “What if?” “What if we take the President to a surprise visit to a military base, we need to tell no one, we need to go in the middle of the night, we need to secure the area, we need to have adequate protection in the event that someone is tipped off and we need an emergency exit plan.” For ourselves, lock the door into the house every night. You just don’t know, an intruder may try to come in and if the door is locked they’ll try somewhere else, but they know, they cannot get in without force. Or maybe you have a home alarm, turn it on every night, make it part of your routine, and when you get up, after you turn on your coffee, you turn it off. Always lock the car door both when you are in the car and when you leave so that no one can get in and be hiding in the back. Maybe you take a self defense class as a family to prepare yourself. Maybe you talk about safety to your children frequently, not in a frightening ways but rather as, we just always want to be prepared, “We get our backpacks, clothes and shoes out the night before to be prepared, we’ll just occasionally talk about safety so it just becomes part of what we do. Here’s what I mean, “Hey family, we are heading to Cedar Point next week, the day after school is out, it’s going to be fun. Let’s talk about all the things we could do to lessen the chances of someone getting hurt or lost. There are lots of people there, of course well stay together, but if something happens, if you get off a ride and you can’t find us, let’s all meet at the _____________. That is a sign/ride that is visible from anywhere in the park. We’ll all meet there. Like I said, it could happen, it may not, but let’s have a plan”. Or, “if you happen to be in a situation where a stranger makes you feel uncomfortable and you are in a crowd, your look at the crowd for a woman who may look like Mom or Grandma, run to her and yell, ‘Mom, I am so glad to see you, I was afraid I was lost!” And then ask that woman to help you find your parents.” This is just one example of a family trip that could be a good teaching lesson and just think of all the questions and good conversation that could come from that situation. Make sure all of these situations are talked about in ‘matter of fact’ tones. Try not to overly alarm your child, you should talk to them about these concerns just as you would talk to them about eating right or doing their homework, it’s just part of the conversations in life.

For your teenager children and young adults, it is even more important because they are not always in your care. They could be at camp, college at study abroad or living on their own and they need to be smart about where they go and their behavior. I’ll have to be honest, I was not always the most careful young adult. When I was living in London as a young college student, I DID get in to a car with a stranger and my friend and and I got on a train to meet a stranger outside of London and I went running through Hyde Park in the area where the Pakistani popular gathered with woman covered from head to toe while I wore just running shorts and a tank top. All behaviors I would not have wanted my daughter or son to partake in. Just not smart. We could have been kidnapped when we got in the car with the man we met at McDonald’s in central London as it poured rain. He saw that I had a University of Michigan t-shirt on and he told us that he had attended U of M Law School. After a long conversation with him he offered a ride telling us that his family lived very close to our flat in the Kensington area,where he ended up dropping us off,there were no problems at all. After a meeting a young man while we were were out, I was not going to let my friend meet this guy again without me going with her. We had planned to get outside of London to see the country, when she told him that, he said come count to where my family lives, out near Checkers the Prime Minister’s country home. We two took the train and she would have done the same for me. Yes, we did meet his family and they now are married thirty five years. In these two circumstances, we were playing the odds, we had some sense of trust after conversations, but of course these situations could have gone totally wrong as well too. For me to have run by myself through the park in an area really pretty unknown to me could have had a bad outcome as well too. Especially since I ran with a Walkman, and I could have been apprehended without my noticing because I had loud music playing in my ears.

Teach your kids to be aware of their surroundings, not to go places by themself, especially at night. If your young adult kids live in big city, make sure they have a plan should there be an emergency. If they have friends, have they decide on a meeting place and a scheme to get out of the city. When September 11th happened a friend of ours was at a medical conference in Washington DC. None of us knew what was going on and all of the airports were closed, he very quickly rented a car and drove back to Michigan as soon as he could to just get out of the DC area.

If you have a plan, it may need to be altered when the time comes, you may need to alter the plan as time goes on if things change, but if you have a plan, you are doing something to prepare. Think of these plans as any other plan or preparations in your life. You prepare your home for colder weather by bringing in the hose and getting the shovels out to shovel snow. You get you annual medical appointments on the schedule. When you look at the uncertainty in the world around us, having a plan and making preparation many help settle your mind and give you more confidence enabling you to think more clearly if faced with an emergency situation. Say your prayers and have a plan. That’s all we can do and may make for some Great Days 🍎