When do you tell your children about the wolf in the forest?

little red riding hood

 

The brutal and senseless rape (I am sure there are several other terms I should apply here, but let’s leave it at that for now) and murder of Franziska Blöchliger has affected us all.

I think we got lulled there for a bit thinking that the never ending summer and sunshine, and the carefree world we inhabited was real.

As South Africans we are all too aware of the rate of murder, rape and general disregard for life in our country feels like it is at an all time high.

If you read the news, listen to the news or read a street sign with the headlines of papers, you soon realise that this bubble we have created is just a bubble, and sooner or later it will go the way of all bubbles.

Burst apart and leaving us feeling exposed.  And then reality will creep in.

I know bad things happen.

I know there are some really bad people out there.

I know that innocent people die at a staggering rate, each day in this country.

I know.

But life distracts us with the stuff that we need to do to get through the day.

If you are like me, you get caught up in your day to day life of paying your accounts, ensuring that your TELKOM account is not cut off.  You do not run out of wi-fi before month end and you somehow manage to get through the day with all three children still alive, and your sanity intact.

Trying to understand your child’s mathematics home work so you can help, and basically doibg everything you can to just get through the day, so you can fall in to bed and go “fuck I survived that day,” and then set your alarm to wake up and do it all again.

Being caught up in THAT stuff makes you forget about the “other stuff” that is happening out in the world.

If I had to know how many children are raped each day — how many high school children are bullied, beat up and in some cases left for dead every day, I think I would not be able to function.

If I had to know how many children go to school hungry and leave the day with no education, and still hungry, I would probably end up in a catatonic state.

I would not be able to worry about my car sitting in the repair shop forever.   And the “surprise” bill I will be getting soon.

I would not be able to worry about all the other million things I worry about each day.  Which appear trifling now.

I watched a video earlier this week of a child in high school bullying another child in high school.  There were no weapons involved, it was some boy smacking another boy around.

The video made me feel ill and left me uneasy.   I had to stop before the end —

My son is in high school.  I think when you see something that you can easily relate to your own child or your home situation, it strikes a chord and your world gets a little wobble.

I did not bookmark the video and tried to go back to see if I could find it to link it here — but instead I found hundreds of others that made me realise that I cannot actually take in what the media (social or otherwise) is presenting to me each day.

My brain exists in its own bubble.

I cannot have that bubble burst.  That bubble not only protects me from little scrapes and scratches, that bubble {also} insulates me against the real world.

I know there is a wolf in the woods.  Red riding hood made it quite clear in her story.

The fable warns us to always remain on the path.  Not to stop and pick flowers and not to talk to strangers.  The story that has been passed on for generations gives us the message “stay safe” if you follow these rules.

Franziska Blöchliger followed the rules.  She was with her family on a well known path, We have all walked through Tokai forest. There are hundreds of people who run/jog/horse ride there every day.

Normally you are looking for tree roots that will trip you up and your biggest concern is falling and scuffing your knee.

At which point in this conversation do we start to talk to our children about what actually exists in the forest?

Do we tell them that they could be brutalized.  Raped. Sodomized. Murdered. And their bodies discarded a few hundred meters from their families who are happily walking.

Do we tell our children to be extra careful?

How do we tell our children that this is the forest that they face, and we cannot, even as their parents, protect them from what lives in the forest?

Sharon van Wyk over at The Blessed Barrenness  wrote this blog post that went viral, and basically ruled the world – http://www.theblessedbarrenness.co.za/dear-mr-mrs-blochliger/ …. I read this blog post and it made me profoundly sad.  Just sad.

I was not angry.  I did not give myself the space to think that “that” could have been my child.  One of my girls.  I was sad at the inhumanity.  At the fact that nothing you can do can protect your children.  Even if they are a few metres away from you.

We are at the mercy of what lives in the forest.

I felt this weight of sadness.  I kept thinking what and when do I tell my innocent girls that there is this horror in the world that exists.

Do I tell them so they can protect themselves?

Do I tell them so that they see this as a warning never to stray out of my eye sight until they are …. what, what age is it safe for your child to jog down a well known path in a well known area of forest?

This walk in the woods was not a fairy tale with a happy ending.

It is just filled with horror and indescribable pain and heart-ache.

I do not think any of us who heard the Franziska was unaffected.  It made us all sad, weary and exhausted.  I think as a nation we all cried – not symbolically – but with real tears at a waste of a life.  A child killed.

I usually talk to my children about things that happen in the news, so we can break the events down, discuss them and they can understand what is happening in the world.

I cannot tell my children about what happened to Franziska Blöchliger.

I cannot tell my children that I cannot protect them from the monsters that murdered Franziska Blöchliger.

My son is two years younger than Franziska Blöchliger.

Do I break his bubble and tell him about what can happen to a girl walking in the forest, who felt safe and protected. Until she wasn’t.

Should I tell him that he is not safe — anywhere.

I am absolutely without any power to protect my children.

The wolf in the woods has proved that he lurks and waits, and nothing you do can stop him if he is going to take you.

How do I explain this in terms that my son and daughters will understand, when I cannot understand it.

What do we tell our children?

 

160308FranziskaBlöchligerVigil02-jpg

Three men formally charged for Franziska Blöchliger’s murderEarlier today, police confirmed three men were being questioned in connection with the murder.

EWN

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. I’m over in the U.K. and learning about this story from you. Got to be honest, I kinda wish I’d stayed ‘blissfully unaware’😦

    Reply
  2. gigagolic

     /  March 18, 2016

    Dear Celeste,
    I live in a bubble, under a rock, with a super HEPA filter surrounding said rock. I don’t do TV or radio or Newspapers. It makes my hole in the ground manageable and more peaceful. I suppose I live in ignorant bliss. I try to teach my kids about the Wolf, but they don’t really grasp it, because they don’t understand that another human could be so very evil. your post just woke up so much sadness and disappointment in humankind. Because my filter was invaded for a brief moment, and in that moment I realised that we are super frail. That sometimes these things filter through for a reason. For me, the reason is that I must hold my kids tighter, confirm my love for them more often, and tell them once again about the Wolf. Because one can never be sure. Thank you for slipping through my bubble today x

    Reply
  3. The little girl beaten to death here in Johannesburg is the same age as my daughter – I look at my daughter and I can’t imagine that a 9 year old has to go through the horror of seeing her mother beaten to death and then tied up and also beaten to death. I don’t know if I want to stay in this country…

    Reply

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