Oh, wait, no… that’s not the headline. Sorry, THIS is the headline:
“Mississippi Teens Face Murder Charge For 6-Year-Old Boy Shot In Stolen Car”
By now you might have heard about this horrifying and tragic story:
Three teenagers are facing capital murder charges in the shooting death of a 6-year-old Mississippi boy whose body was recovered following a statewide Amber Alert.
Dwan Diondro Wakefield, 17, Byron McBride, 19, and D’Allen Tyreek Washington, 17, were booked on the charges hours after Kingston Frazier’s body was found inside his mother’s stolen car on Thursday, jailhouse records show.
The child’s mother had said that she left her son asleep in her car when she ran into a Jackson Kroger supermarket around 1 a.m. that morning. When she returned, her car and son were gone, state police have said.
The Madison County coroner said the boy had been shot multiple times, conflicting with previous reports that he had been shot once in his head, Mississippi News Now reported.
Okay this is the stuff of maternal nightmares and I deeply relate to it, especially as I have a six year old son. I’m saddened to hear this story, it rocked me to the core. My heart goes out to this grieving family as they work through such an unspeakable tragedy.
But, there’s more that must be done, don’t you think? More than just prayers and hearts going out…? I know it’s not socially acceptable, but can we please talk about this? You know, the part of the story no one seems to want to talk about? The fact that somehow, someone thought it was okay to leave a six year old in a car, alone, in a parking lot in the middle of the night??
And BEFORE anyone has time to get all crazy on me, claiming I am not offering the grace and compassion needed in a time like this -Please just wait.
I’m not talking about demonizing or blaming the poor mother for this tragic occurrence. I cannot even begin to understand the level of grief she must be coping with and my heart goes out to her. She is nothing but a victim in this and I’d never, ever place blame upon her head.
I AM however, 100% targeting our continuing culture that thinks it’s totally okay to live by a “meh, it’s fine”, lukewarm parenting process. I’m looking at you, moms who sit there at the park chatting it up with your backs to your kids for an hour, assuming, “well, if they need me they can come and get me”. I’m looking at you, moms who think, “I’m just going to the bank and back, the 8 year old will be fine for 20 minutes home alone”. I’m looking at you, moms who laugh at the moms who “force” their kids to hold hands in crowds and you, mom, who says I’m the crazy one for demanding that my child be with me at all times instead of just letting them walk a mile to the park by themselves becuase, “well, they’re 7 and they know the way, so it’s fine, they have to learn to be independent sometime, right?”
The legal age in Mississippi to leave a child home alone is 12. TWICE THE AGE OF THIS CHILD. Now, I don’t know if there is another, separate law about leaving your children unattended in vehicles in public places, but I’m going to guess that if there is such a law, age six is not the recommended age of independence. So, why would a mother decide going to the store at 1am while her sleeping kindergartener is in the backseat of her car? Well, because our culture says “meh, it’s fine”.
We need to admit that this flippant, vacant, naive parenting culture is a bad idea and remind moms that it’s okay to be maternal. It’s okay to be protective. It’s OUR JOB to be 100% aware of what they are doing at all times. Why? Because BAD THINGS HAPPEN!! This is not fairytale land where only bad things happen to “those other people”. They can happen to you. They can happen to me. They can happen to anyone at any time, in any place – and if we think for one freaking second that it’s okay to let our guard down and turn our backs, we are dead wrong. Bad things happen even when you are hand-holding and keeping your eyes on them 24/7, so what makes you think for one moment that watching them LESS intently will be the least bit helpful?
I don’t blame this poor mama… I blame the mamas before her who set the precedent of acceptance with this type of parenting. We (myself included, I’m not perfect) need to stop accepting this “my comfort comes before your needs” as normal and socially okay mothering.
It isn’t. It’s getting our children killed.
Gorillas, alligators, car thieves turned murderers… all examples of why this complacent parenting doesn’t work and yet, most of us (yes even me) sit here crying about feelings and guilt, finger-shaking those who question while scolding, “well you can’t blame the parents”.
Fine. Don’t blame them. But let’s take a long, hard look at where that blame belongs, shall we?
It belongs squarely on top of our own shoulders when we refuse to analyze the culture of absent minded, lukewarm parenting while hiding behind phrases like,”they deserve grace” and “stop judging, you’re not perfect either”. When we refuse to say NO to this; “well kids have to learn sometime” culture, we are helping to create these situations.
So, let’s just stop right now and make the commitment to stop perpetuating it by “hugging it out” with parents who make bad choices. And I don’t mean the choices like this where something tragic happens, I mean before that – before it comes to this. BEFORE the tragedy. Let’s be honest about it. Stop saying “well every family is different, you guys do you how you see fit” and speak up for these tiny souls who cannot speak for themselves. Unless we do, no one else will and the more we make it trendy and to just accept things like this as “well, terrible accidents happen, it’s no one’s fault”, the more things like this will happen.
My deepest regret, love and prayers go out to the mama of this sweet boy and her entire family. I am truly sorry for her loss. But it IS someone’s fault. And moms – that someone is us.
I promise I will not support a culture that makes mothers feel bad for watching over and protecting their babies at all times, at all ages, in every way possible. I promise I will not support a culture who accepts lukewarm parenting as good enough. This is my vow to you, sweet mama.
I know it won’t feel like enough to ease your grief, but maybe – we can start to put an end this once and for all.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Is this culture not the cause of situations like this? Let’s talk about it. I’d love your opinions and observations.