Stalkers, Kidnappers & Molesters Oh My! Why I don’t post pictures of my kid online.

 

My mother and father did an excellent job of ingraining the concept of Stranger Danger into me as a child. One might say they did to good of a job.

My father has four daughters and I know for a fact that his biggest fear is one of us being abducted. I know this because since I was 9 years old there has always been mug shots of local sexual offenders on his refrigerator. Our instructions if we happen upon on of these individuals? Scream “RAPE!” and “FIRE!” and start to run- even if this guy doesn’t talk to you. Fortunately, this scenario has never played out.  My dad has a mantra we had to recite whenever we left the house. “Bad people do bad things to little kids.”

My mom was much less intense about Stranger Danger, but still very affective. She bought a VHS copy of  How to Raise a Street Smart Child and had us watch it repetitivly. I feel like all parents and children should watch this video, together. It has a commentary by John Walsh, who is best known as the father of Adam Walsh, who was kidnapped and murdered the summer of 1981.  There are many scary situations laid out in this documentary, the most scary being child abduction.

The documentary lays out different ways children and adults can thwart would-be kidnappers. One of the tips that has stayed with me into adulthood was to not ever have your child’s name printed anywhere on their clothing or backpack. Kidnappers can easily trick children into thinking they know them, or their parents, just by knowing their name.

If someone can lure my child away just because they know her name then I want as few people as possible to know it. This is why I do not post pictures of Eloise online. I have over 400 “friends” on Facebook. I have met and personally know just about all of these people, but do I really know all of them? No. Of course not. Even if I thought I knew someone well, you never really know, ya know?

When I was a couple of months pregnant I downloaded a sex offender locator app on my IPhone. Guess what? Three of my Facebook friends are on the list. One of them grew up around the corner from me. I’ve known him my whole entire life. He was convicted of owning child pornography. I would have never ever guessed. Ever.

A screen shot of the locations of the sex offenders in my hometown.

A screen shot of the locations of the sex offenders in my hometown.

Do I want this man, and unnamed and not yet found others, to be able to recognize my child at a glance? What about complete strangers? Facebook security settings can be tricky and change often. It is just is not something I am willing to risk.

According to The Federal Bureau of Investigation 49% of children are kidnapped by family members, 24% by strangers, and 27% by acquaintances. Kids taken by acquaintances are mainly female or teenagers and are the most likely to be sexually and/or physically abused. I encourage you to read this article, and visit these sites to learn more.

If, God forbid, something were to ever happen to my daughter I will have a SHORT list of people who know who she is and what she looks like.

Not posting pictures of her on Facebook really is a pain in my ass. I love to look at pictures of friend’s and relatives and acquaintances’ kids on Facebook. Without Facebook, I would hardly know what my adorable, far-away nephews are doing or see how much they’ve grown. I honestly am not judging other parents about putting pictures of their own children up. On the contrary, I am kind of embarrassed I come off like an aloof over bearing parent. I hate having to ask everyone who takes a picture of Elle to please not post it anywhere online.

Instead of posting openly online, I collected the email addresses of people I know and trust, who want to watch Eloise grown up, and email them updated pictures once a week.

I am keenly aware that I am an overly paranoid parent. The first month after Eloise was born I barely slept because I was convinced if I stopped watching her while she slept she would die of SIDS. I have completely banned outdoors without  the use of an insect net after she was stung on the face by a bee (To be fair, though, Robert’s family has a history of severe anaphylactic shock from bee stings). I spend a good part of my life worrying about my child- and she can’t even crawl yet! I wish I could have less anxiety about her, but I can’t.

The truth of the matter is that no one can guarantee their child’s safety 100% of the time. As they get older there is less and less that a parent can control. Soon she’ll be walking, crossing the street, going to school and meeting new people. All of this will be beyond my control. But as of right now, I have complete say over where she goes, what she does, and, most importantly, who knows her. I rue the day she is old enough to want her own social media page. I have no idea how I will handle it, but I have some time to figure it out.

Button? Button? Who’s got the Button? Not me.

buttons

Some people are afraid of needles, some are afraid of spiders. I have an irrational fear of buttons.

From childhood on, I have had a strong problem with buttons. Recently I started looking into it and I was surprised at what I found.

Koumpounophobia, or the fear of buttons, as described by phobias.about.com is “surprisingly common. Yet like any phobia, the specific fear may vary dramatically between sufferers. Some people are afraid of the texture of certain buttons. Others feel that buttons are somehow dirty. Some only fear touching or wearing buttons, while others are scared of viewing buttons worn by strangers or friends.”

There is even a type of the phobia where people are afraid of ingesting them, or having them stuck up their noses, etc. This fear can even be brought on by witnessing a traumatic experience that happens to someone else, such as choking on a button, or swallowing one.

I can honestly say that my fear did not come from some traumatic childhood experience, or anything of the like. As far back as I can remember buttons have simply made me cringe. I do not like to touch them, or have them touching me. Although, seeing them or viewing them on other people does not bother me. Also, to me, buttons have an indentifying smell that is extremely unpleasant.

The severity of my fear depends on the type of button in question. My main phobia consists of your typical four holed button that exist on clothing like menswear shirts, polos, sweaters, etc. Whereas metal buttons that are typically found on jeans, or snap buttons, do not bother me in the slightest.

Want to send me running for the hills? A jar, or bag full of mismatched buttons will do it. The thought alone of having to run my hands over a pile of buttons gives me nightmares.

My problem with this sewing staple has been so constant in my life, that anytime I buy any article of clothing that has unneeded buttons on them, I cut them off as soon as possible. Oh, and those little packets they stitch inside your clothes in case you lose one? In the trash immediately.

I sometimes thank the powers that be that I was born female, therefore not needing to deal with these as often as men would have to. My major concern as of late has been my son. Quinn is 2 this year, and my thoughts often dwell on the fact that as he gets older, I am going to have to conquer my fear of these damned things. Heaven help me if my child ever gets one stuck in his nose, or accidentally eats one.

Being a single mother is challenging, but it also a very rewarding experience. I have to overcome a lot on a daily basis just to keep life constant and joyful for my number one little guy. I get a lot of help from my parents and his father when he’s able, but I can’t always rely on someone else to be there when I have to get him dressed for any kind of dressy outing or the like. I foresee a lot of rubber gloves in my future.

While I was researching my phobia I came across a startling fact. Steve Jobs, the man himself, had Koumpounophobia. Part of the driving ambition to create the iPhone, iPad, etc. was Jobs’ fear of buttons and traditional style phones. “If Steve Jobs had not been afraid of buttons, would cell phones and tablets as we now know them exist today?” –  , former About.com Guide

It will surprise no one to learn that my phone is in fact, an iPhone.

Throughout my life, this fear of mine has been mostly a joke to my immediate family, friends, and even coworkers. Many times in the past I have been chastised by my parents for not being able to wear them and it’s even been the butt of a few jokes. Just this evening while I was looking at articles online, a couple of my coworkers were devising ways that they could hide buttons on my chair, or on my locker to paralyze me with fear. The joke is on them though, because payback is a bitch.

epicnerd

See articles on Steve Jobs here:

CBS News – Apple’s Steve Jobs Hates Buttons

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501203_162-3095726.html

The Wall Street Journal – Hide the Button: Steve Jobs Has His Finger on It

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118532502435077009.html