I love my Olathe Grandma dearly. Hands down, without a doubt, she has been one of the most influential persons in my life and when she is gone for good, there will be a gaping hole in my heart and life that will never fully close. Never. I don't write about her much here and often, my stories are cute ones that poke gentle fun at her. I'm aware of how this blog has never done her justice for what an incredibly important person she has been in my life - it's something I have in my head to rectify (i.e. a post all about her and what she has done for me). Nearly everything I post about her are things that I have already said to her in person, so I don't feel dishonest in my writings of her. Writings such as this one.
My grandma is a very fearful person. She gave me roller skates, but I could only use them in her basement or 6x6 patio. Sidewalks? HELL NO. I wasn't allowed to play in her front yard because "someone might steal me". I still always, ALWAYS stop for railroad crossings even if there is a light - a legacy passed on to me by my grandma. I've been told countless horror stories over the years and have received yards upon yards of newspaper clippings in my mail. Folks, the world is a dangerous place and this has been drilled into my head since I can remember.
Those of you who live in Kansas City have probably heard of the Kelsey Smith abduction. Saturday evening, around 7:10 pm 18 year old Kelsey Smith went into a suburban area Target, made a purchase, then went to her car. There is a grainy surveillance video of a brief struggle at her car, then the car drives off. Her car was discovered 2 hours later at a nearby shopping mall and no sign has been seen of her since. Of course, this horrifies me. I am sure nearly every one of my Kansas City readers has frequented that particular Target and the nearby shopping mall. This story reeks of "there but for the grace of God go I" --- it is every mother's AND woman's worst nightmare. I don't watch the local news, but I do read it online and I've been checking it throughout the day in hopes she has been found. So, yes. I'm pretty shaken by such a seemingly random abduction.
This evening I received the ubiquitous call from my grandma that immediately starts off with "have you been reading in the paper about that little girl that got abducted?". And yes, I had. Per usual, I got the usual dire warnings from my grandma about how I shouldn't be "taking that baby anywhere." Meaning, according to her, Arun and I should just hole up in our house for the rest of our natural lives.
I still can't help but shake my head when I get firmly admonished by my grandma over the fact that I refuse to be ruled by fear and "brazenly" jet around Kansas City. Just Sunday, as I was driving into Brookside (a very nice urban neighborhood of Kansas City), she got very agitated that I would go into such a "dangerous" area where she reads all the time in the newspaper that they are "shooting people up there" (the same phrase she uses when I "confess" we have gone to the zoo. The zoo!) Okay, yes - there were some carjackings in the Brookside area, but guess what? Carjackings are not limited to Brookside! I do realize that I am going into some dicey areas by hanging out in Westport, Midtown, the Rivermarket, SW Blvd, 39th street, etc. but Kansas City has some very neat, historical areas where my favorite restaurants just happen to be. Am I really supposed to just hang out in my cushy cookie-cutter suburb on the mere chance that I may get mugged? Am I supposed to pass this fear along to my kids? And no, I don't just gallivant around the city. Where ever I go - suburbs or the city, I am careful. I make sure my doors are locked while driving. I try to keep tabs on where folks are when I'm at a stoplight. I rarely talk on my cell phone when walking on the street or in parking lots. When leaving spots where I am using the stroller, I make sure the wheels are locked and the stroller is ready to be immediately folded when I hit the car. I don't dawdle and I take precautions. I didn't work in downtown Kansas City for nearly 10 years for nothing and I ain't nobody's fool.
It's true that my grandma comes by her fears honestly and I can't fault her for them. She grew up dirt poor during the Depression and then later was widowed at the tender age of 24 when my firefighter grandpa died in the line of duty. It was 1947 and she was left with the task of raising 2 children under the age of 3 and half. She didn't have the luxury of taking risks because her children were all she had. I totally get that and respect it. However, I want to LIVE and most importantly, I want to teach my children to take life by the tail. That's all. Or is it?