As a parent of a 15-year-old daughter, I am in tears for those parents who are missing children after last night’s bomb blast at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
From the moment you become a parent, your life is tinged with worry forever after
You become a lighter sleeper in case you’re needed in the night, you know sheer terror if your toddler disappears for a minute in the supermarket and, you’re reluctant to let your tween go alone to a public toilet in a mall because you’ve seen too many horrifying crime movies, where freaks steal children and do terrible things to them.
Letting them go to a concert without you is a big moment for a parent
My daughter was happy to be chaperoned to see One Direction two years ago – she was 13 and just happy to be seeing Niall and Harry in the flesh.
Fast forward to two years later, and she begged to be allowed to go with a friend to see Justin Bieber at the FNB Stadium in Jo’burg.
Being a parent of a teen is harder than parenting toddlers
You can keep toddlers in your sight 24/7 – they don’t have a choice (or a voice to assert their independence) – but teenagers are a different story. We have this constant tug going on inside – between letting go and wanting to hang on tight. (I even find myself longing for those days when she clung to me and sat on my lap at birthday parties, scared of the water slide or the clown.)
But we decided to let her have a night out with friends without cramping her style
Six months after buying the tickets, both Mom and Dad had a sleepless night fretting about dropping her off outside a stadium, in what is often called the rape capital of the world, in the province that’s referred to as the hijack capital of SA.
At the last minute, literally 10 minutes after dropping the 15-year-olds (complete with spare cell phones and power banks) at the stadium with lots of instructions about going to the loo together and not talking to strangers, I got a call from Ponds SA, offering us two VIP tickets to the concert.
Relief! We could be in the stadium in case she needed us – and she wouldn’t even have to know…
It was all okay and, despite 10 minutes of frantic anxiety when we couldn’t get network coverage to call her when it ended, we met at the pre-arranged collection point and it all ended well.
It wasn’t the case for many parents in Manchester last night
Imagine the horror of hearing about a bomb exploding at a venue where you had dropped your precious child (or children); then trying to call them on their phones and getting no answer; then racing to the venue, while calling hospitals in the area on your way; then trying to find them among the dead and wounded in the hysterical crowd.
There is no greater horror or terror for a parent
As for targeting a venue that would be known to be populated by pre-teen and teenage children… what kind of animals could do this? I can only imagine that the bombers have never been parents. Surely no parent, who has created a child and then spent a lifetime trying to protect and keep them safe, could do this to another parent’s child?
There are some complete nutters out there in the crazy, mixed-up world – and some of them are prepared to die for their cause – but please please please leave our children out of it…