I wanted to name this entry “A parent’s anguish” but thought it didn’t do the constant panic I feel about raising two daughters justice.

I am currently caught in the torrential sensation that is the JonBenet Ramsey case, no less thanks to my husband, whom I think is becoming more paranoid than me as his two little girls grow older.

Just click on the link to find out more than any respectable news reader will ever need to know about a ten-year old murder case of a beautiful little six-year old girl, and the recent capture of its chief suspect.

Before we came to the US, we had our usual list of fears living back home in Malaysia. One would read about snatch-thieves and robberies and home break-ins and rapes almost daily, but little children were no more prime targets than, say, little old ladies. Everyone was in the same amount of danger. Condominiums and gated communities became popular due to these crimes because they offered (a false sense of) security. Mace sprays and sometimes even stun guns were suddenly available for purchase from everyday supermarkets (and sometimes used by these very criminals themselves, so ironic it’s funny).

But on the whole, we led adequately comfortable lives, provided we had our street smarts about us. Always walk against traffic. Never withdraw and carry large amounts of money with you (that’s anything more than RM500). Be aware – be VERY aware – of motorbikes parked at the sides of roads with their riders still on them. Be aware of running feet from behind you. Never leave valuables in your car. And always let go of your purse if ever you get robbed, because how many times have we heard of snatch-thief victims getting dragged on the road to their deaths because they would not let go or can’t?

Having come to Washington, we have let go of many of these fears. We’ve left the house with our garage door AND access door opened several times (not that we purposely do it – we’re THAT forgetful) and not a thing was touched. We walk around weaponless. Here, the criminals go for the ‘big time’. High-level corporate embezzlements. Date rapes. Serial murders.

And the kidnapping/murder and/or rape of little children.

Two months into our stay in Seattle, I subscribed us to the National Alert Registry for sex offenders.

Within a one-mile radius of our home, there is one offender. Within two, there are three offenders, one of them a child molester. Within five, there are eight offenders. Four of them have been convicted of child molestation, rape and/or communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

It is a mixed feeling I have about living here in Redmond. While I love the outdoors, I cannot help but be in a constant state of fear when I take the girls out for a day at the park. Back home, the worst that could happen to your child is that he or she be kidnapped for a ransom (and the kidnappers are known to target middle-income families because they are more likely to pay a ransom of say, RM10,000 which is about US$2500) than say, kidnapping a rich man’s son and making a big police drama out of it. The children may be killed or worse, have their ears or limbs cut off to send the ‘right’ message across.

Here, if you aren’t filthy rich, there can only be two reasons why your child is missing: she has run away, or she’s been lured away by a sexual predator, who may be your gardener. Or a regular at a park you visit. Or even your neighbour.

Which do we prefer? Neither, of course. It just shows that no matter where you live, you can never escape the fact that being a parent is, without a doubt, the most stressful job in the world. That the more you try to control the things that influence your life, and that of your child’s, the less you are able to.

And if you do persist, before you know it, you would’ve spent your life fire-fighting the possibility of a crisis, and still have lost your kids at the end of the day – to your own obsessive behaviour.

So I say live and let live. Do your best, and leave the rest to God.

And as the Girl Guides say: ALWAYS be prepared.


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