6's & 7'S
and all things crazy
Two young women excitedly approach my booth at a recent Third Thursday event in Joplin, Missouri, giggling as they looked over all of my Damsel in Defense self-defense products. I tried to educate them about their chances of being assaulted over their lifetime and the importance of not being an easy target, but their only fascination with the stun guns, pepper sprays, striking tools, personal alarms, and other items was how much fun it would be to "zap their boyfriends."
A father of three young girls came later, only to say that his girls were 'careful' and he'd 'think about it', as if there were no urgency in teaching them about getting away from strangers or predators or providing them with tools to help do that.
A woman that works the evening shift at a local hospital followed, stating if anything happens to her in the parking lot after work, it would be security's fault...
"The problem is, they don't get it." Kevin, a man with the motorcycle ministry group Spoke N Word SW Missouri Chapter, had been watching me from his presentation area next to mine. "You have good products that could really help them, but they don't realize the danger." And that's when I realized...he's right.
As parents, as a society, we are teaching our women to fear the wrong things. Terrorist attacks, rattlesnakes, sharks, spiders. Look up the probability of being injured by one of those common fears. To put this in perspective, a little more than 2 million people are injured in car accidents in the US each year, which is roughly ONE in ONE HUNDRED SIXTY people. But we always wear our seat belts, and make sure our kids are strapped in, because we consider the risk of injury so great.
ONE IN FIVE WOMEN WILL BE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED IN THEIR LIFETIME.
ONE IN FOUR GIRLS ARE SEXUALLY MOLESTED AS CHILDREN, AND ONE IN SIX BOYS.
A VIOLENT CRIME HAPPENS IN THE US EVERY 26 SECONDS.
A sexual assault is so much more than physical. It hurts the body, the mind, and the heart of the victim. Forever.
Most of my customers are those that have either been assaulted, or have a loved one who has been and were forced to recognize the dangers that surround them on a daily basis. How I wish they had recognized it before. How I wish they had known the importance of having SOMETHING with them so they weren't perceived as an easy target. How I wish they had been taught, by their parents, by society, by those they look up to and respect.
As my new friend Kevin suggested, women and girls need tools to help them when they are in an uncomfortable position, but first, they have to be afraid of the right things. The real dangers that are all around them. And as parents, as a society, we have to begin recognizing these things and teaching them.
So, what are we afraid of?
From now until the end of the month, I'm donating 10% of everything sold to Spoke N Word Ministries SW Missouri Chapter.
Like their Facebook page here: Spoke N Word Ministries SWMO Chapter
When I was in kindergarten, a harmless field trip to the local zoo turned into an experience that I still remember vividly 48 years later and considering the events at the Cincinnati Zoo this week and all of the outcry on social media related to it, I thought I would tell you a story, and maybe make you think a little bit before you rush to judge.
My kindergarten class took a field trip to the zoo, and my dad was one of the chaperones. As a class, we listened to a long spiel from the zookeepers about how dangerous the animals were, don't do this, don't do that, and whatever you do, don't feed the animals. Fine, all I cared about was seeing the animals, and as I toured with my friends, I became absolutely fascinated with the elephants, and they were equally fascinated with the peanuts or popcorn that I kept popping in my mouth. I snuck a peanut through the fence and to my delight, one big smiling elephant (they are always smiling, right) took it. No harm, no foul, adults were crazy. Okay, I was a headstrong kid, even at five.
So I filled my hand with goodies and I waited, yes, I WAITED, until my dad was distracted with another kid, and held out my hand. Instead of sticking his trunk through the fence, my two ton friend stuck his trunk over the fence and I gladly held my hand up to him. And instead of grabbing one peanut, he tried to take them all---by grabbing my hand up to the wrist.
He didn't MEAN to do it, he wasn't trying to hurt me, and when I tried to pull away, he did what his instincts told him to do and pulled back. By the time 'the adults' realized I was screaming for a valid reason, he had my arm, up to the elbow, in his trunk. My dad grabbed me, the zookeeper ran to our side, and my friend Phlegmy sneezed and released me. He wasn't hurt in the process, nor was I, other than getting a stern lecture and a shower from the zookeeper, a good butt tanning from my dad, and being called Snotty for the rest of my kindergarten year. I'm sure it was pretty funny to everyone who didn't have their arm up an elephants trunk.
But it could have been horrible. Elephants are BIG and they are strong, and although they are very smart, they are wild animals and act on instinct. Phlegmy's first reaction, with all the screaming and me pulling, could have been to run---and if he had, it would have turned into a pretty bad day for both of us, I suspect. And I'm sure, being lower on the food chain, it would have been a worse day for Phlegmy than me.
Was I stupid? Yes, I was five. Sue me. If you never did anything stupid when you were five, feel free to judge me.
Was my dad a bad parent? It took less than ten seconds for all of this to occur. If you've never been distracted from eyeballing your kid for ten seconds, feel free to judge him.
Was it the zoos fault? They had taken all of the precautions necessary up until that point. It was the last time I ever went to a zoo where you could actually get close enough to the elephants to feed them (probably because of stupid five year old Kelly). And although it was resolved without me or the elephant being hurt, I'm sure the zoo had an emergency plan in place, just in case...
And THANK GOD social media didn't exist at the time so everyone in the world felt they were suddenly entitled to judge me, or my parent, or the zoo for what happened.
I'm not sure I totally agree with the idea of zoos in the first place, but they do exist, and since 175 million people visit them each year, a lot of people are okay with the idea. And as long as they are around, there will, at times, be problems. Although there haven't been many historically that resulted in injuries to patrons by the animals, the chance is always there, because they are wild animals. They are smart, and they are strong. Sadly, the recent event in Cincinnati resulted in the death of a gorilla. Not his fault. It was a horrible turn of events, and as a lover of all animals, I am truly saddened by his death.
But, who are we to judge the people directly involved? I know people that take their kids hunting at age four and do you know how many kids get lost in the woods each year? And not one of those parents would hesitate to put a bullet or six in a bear or any other wild animal that even looked like it might get close to that child.
So, unless you:
Never did anything stupid at the age of four,
never lost sight of your child for more than 10 seconds,
would choose the life of an animal over the life of your child...
then quit bashing this family and calling them out on social media. Their lives will forever be affected by this horrible incident. Maybe it will encourage more parents to leash their kids when they are in public situations, but I doubt it because most think THEIR kids would never do X, Y, or Z. Until it happens, of course.
And if you think zoos are inhumane, then quit visiting them, and use all the energy that you are expending to do something about that.
Any parent will tell you there are a few movies that are go-to favorites of the kids. In my family, one of those was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When my sons were kids, we watched it so many times I had dreams of blowing up the car and watching all of the characters choke on Toot Sweets. However, this past Christmas, and mind you, the kids are adults now, we decided to reminisce and watch Chitty go bang one more time.
And there is no doubt that watching it from an adult perspective with other adults (even if we did sing all the songs and turn around on our music boxes in front of the TV) made me realize what amazing life lessons can be learned from the show.
Here you go. What I learned about life from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:
1. Children need love more than anything-That seems pretty basic, but one of the interesting things about this show, from 1968, is that it is about a poor single father with two children. He adored his children, sang to them, told them how much he loved them, played with them, and despite their lack of funds---they were happy. Very happy.
2. Imagination is a wonderful thing-In this day of technological everything, sometimes we forget to just let our imaginations run free and see where they lead us.
3. Never give up-A significant underlying theme of the movie, without a doubt. The father, an inventor of many strange things, finally improvises on one and sells it. It wasn't his only invention, nor his first, he continued to try and try again. He never gave up. His father, nutty grandpa, sings one of the best songs in the movie, Grow the Roses, which is about being thankful for your failures because "from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success." If you've never heard it, or it's been a while, you might want to listen again (It's my new writing theme song).
4. Love and respect your elders-The major plot of the movie is rescuing nutty grandpa from the Vulgarian king. It would have been easy to say, "oh, well, Gramps is old and what can we do?" But, no, Grampa Potts was a valuable part of their family, and they went to save him. Go, Potts family.
5. Sally Ann Howes was amazing. Okay, maybe more of an observation, but the woman was stunningly beautiful, had a voice that was incredible, and from what I've read about her, she was nice. Hey, I'm all about giving props to those that are genuinely nice people. Truly Scrumptious.
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