Stomaching Reality

There are some television shows I have a hard time watching since I've become a father. Not because their poorly written, acted, obscene, or just plain stupid (I do my best not to watch those shows anyway) but because of their subject matter involved horrible things that happened to children.

Saturday night Marathon Girl and I were watching a 48 Hours Mystery about a 13-year-old boy, Eric Smith, who killed a five year old named Derrick Robie .

It wasn't pretty.

The five year old was strangled, his head smashed with a rock, and finally he was sodomized with a stick.

Aside from being naturally repulsed how any human could do that to another person (especially a five year old boy), I kept thinking over and over again "What if that happened to Aidan?" That thought left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach for the rest of the show. What if one day Aidan went out to play and didn't come back? These are feelings I never had before when watching one of these shows.

During a commercial break I told Marathon Girl how I was feeling.

"I was thinking the same thing," she said.

We finished watching the show (Smith was denied parole) but the sick feeling stayed with me the rest of the night and I was left wondering if I'll have the stomach to watch a show with similar subject matter again.

At some point I'm going to have to talk to Aidan and explain that the world isn't always a nice place. I'll need to tell him never to accept rides from strangers and that there are people out there that like to hurt little children.

Even now I find myself taking precautions I never would have done before Aidan came along. Before we bought our home I checked to see if there were any sex offenders living in the neighborhood. (There weren't.) I go back to the sex offender registry every few months just to make sure none have moved in. (None have -- yet.)

But just because some sicko doesn't live in your neighborhood, that doesn't mean that Aidan or any of the other kids in the neighborhood are safe. Someone could drive through looking for prey, a neighbor could be watching from a window.

The world is such a big, wonderful place for Aidan . He's such a sociable kid. He's not shy around anyone -- even strangers. Each conversation, each cautionary tale will strip away his innocence a one piece at a time. I hope it will not strip it way completely.

As a parent there's nothing I can do other than be vigilant, talk with Aidan as he becomes old enough to understand such matters and pray that nothing happens.

Sometimes I wish we lived in a world were such precautions weren't necessary.