By: Tamara Mackie
The day started out like any other, my little brother and I, age 6 and 10 at the time, came home from school and plopped down in front of the TV to watch some cartoons. Being the eldest child it was up to me to make sure that everything was in order until my parents got home from work, usually an hour after we got home from school. As we sat on the couch I started to doze off and before I knew it I fell asleep completely. Roughly 30 minutes later I woke up to the sound of my parents coming through the door, and I ran to greet them. My mom started making us a snack and she told me to tell my brother to come to the kitchen, so I yelled out his name but there was no response.
I figured he was probably in his room so I ran upstairs but I still couldn’t find him. I was certain he was hiding from me for fun and decided that when I found him I was going to tackle him to the ground for wasting my time. I scoured the house and there was still no sign of him. Finally, panic took over and I ran to my parents, and told them I couldn’t find my brother anywhere. My parents then searched the house and went on to search the neighborhood. I stayed home in case he wandered back in and spent every second praying that my brother was okay, how could I let this happen I wondered, and fear and guilt filled my chest. For what seemed like hours, my parents finally returned home with my brother in hand an hour later. I let out a sigh of relief, then started yelling at him for leaving the house and asked him why he would do such a thing. And what he told me next… I will never forget.
He started by telling me that he wanted to go play at the park by our house but that he didn’t want to wake me so he left as quietly as he could. While at the park he told me he had made a new friend. I asked him what his friend’s name was and he said he didn’t know but that he played with him all over the playground. I was relieved to hear that my brother had a rather typical day at the park but when I asked if his new friend was in his grade my brother responded by saying that his new friend was far too old to be in school. The fear returned and I immediately questioned my brother further about his new companion. It seemed that while at the park, an older man approached him, who he had never met before, and asked my brother if he would like to be pushed on the swings. My brother being the young, naïve 6 year old that he was, responded with a “yes please.” The man then proceeded to ask my brother about his life and school and what his favorite cartoons were, and went so far as to give my brother a candy bar – the cliché of all stranger danger. Afterward, he bid my brother farewell, said he would see him soon, and shortly after departing, my parents had arrived to take my brother home.
As he finished telling me this story he still seemed none the wiser to the potential danger he had put himself in, and I went off to reprimand him on his actions and informed my parents who went on to lecture him further. What had scared me most though was how easily my brother seemed to trust this stranger, and while I was furious he accepted food, I couldn’t help but be thankful it didn’t go as far as the unknown man asking my bother to leave with him, because at that point in his life, still young, innocent and trusting, I think he just might have.