When parents teach their kids about safety, they can only hope that their children are listening — and that they never have to find out for certain if they were. However, Jodie Norton learned in the scariest possible way that her kids were paying attention and remembered her important words when they were in potential danger.
The eye-opening ordeal began when Jodie had to go to the hospital after experiencing excruciating pain from a ruptured ovarian cyst. A neighbor said he could pick her boys up from the hospital and drop them off at school. When Jodie thought the neighbor was near, she sent her 10-year-old and 8-year-old outside to wait on a bench outside of the emergency room.
However, when her boys came home from school that afternoon, she learned that there had been a major problem. "I had wrongly assumed my neighbor was coming from his house (not somewhere farther away), so my two boys sat out front of the ER for 40 minutes. Not the five minutes I had expected," she wrote on her blog. "Their story of what had transpired while I had stupidly left them out there alone made me simultaneously sick and grateful."
Her boys described how during that time they had they first real experience with "freaky, perverted" strangers they had been warned about their entire life. As they were sitting, an adult female and two males came over and asked if they could "help them out by going into the bathroom where her boyfriend was hiding from the doctor and see if they could convince him to come out and get treated," one of her sons told his mom.
When each of Jodie's boys answered, "No, thank you," the woman continued to try to pressure the children to go into the bathroom. "Please? You could really save his life if you'd just go in that bathroom and tell him it's safe to come out," the children later told their mom the woman said.
After the strangers' multiple attempts failed, the neighbor arrived. As the boys quickly jumped in the car for school, they saw the "sick boyfriend" walk out of the bathroom, get in a car with the others, and drive away. "My mouth hung open the entire time they relayed this account," Jody wrote. "My anger and shock turned to immense gratitude, however, when I heard CJ spout off a family 'stay safe' rule we went over way too long ago that helped him know these creeps were up to no good."
This tip for identifying a "tricky person" is immediately what popped into the boys' minds when the stranger first walked over. "Mom, I knew they were tricky people because they were asking us for help. Adults don't ask kids for help," her child said repeating a trick Jodie had read in Pattie Fitzgerald's safety tips on Safely Ever After and taught her kids.
"When it's all said and done, the phrase 'knowledge is power' undoubtedly applies to our kids keeping themselves safe," she wrote. "We know we won't always be physically present to protect our kids from everything – I'm sure you lose sleep over this like I do. But, we can empower them and give them confidence by teaching them what they can do in these kind of situations."