Saturday, 2 November 2013

Protecting your child

Two members of Golden Dawn were murdered and a third was fighting for his life on Friday night after two men on a motorcycle rode past the neofascist party’s offices in Neo Iraklio, northern Athens, and opened fire on people that were standing outside the building.

You can't protect your children from all dangers and you won't always know where your children are. But as parents, we like to believe we can protect our children from all dangers, and we also want to believe that we have a fair idea of their whereabouts when they are out of the house.

But what if one day your teenager comes back home drunk? What, as a parent, do you assume? What, as a parent, do you do? When my children were toddlers, I remember a cousin telling me that "kids will be kids and they will all get drunk at some point in their life", and I was thinking "shit, i never got drunk when i was a kid, and i never turned up drunk when i came back home, and i don't see why my kids have to come back home drunk." I've kept this story in my head, because of that 'never say never' phrase that niggles in the back of our minds when we say 'never', because I don't want to sound like a tiger mum.

A couple of weeks ago, I read in the local paper that one Saturday evening, 3 teenagers aged 15-16 years old were transferred to the emergency department with symptoms of acute intoxication. One doctor put this ever-increasing phenomenon down to parents' not controlling their children's outings:
"They believe that if the child goes to parties, it will probably get drunk, without considering this to be a major issue. Recently, a mother of a teenager had come to the [young people's] clinic where she explained that her child had been brought home twice in a comatose state and she felt that the child had simply got drunk. She viewed the incident in an entirely frivolous manner. Another mother told [the doctors at the clinic] that as soon as her child obtained his driver's licence, it got drunk. But later, it was caught in the act, and only when she went to get it out of jail did she feel mobilized into doing something about it."
I understand from this that parents generally know what their kids are up to - they know that their kids go to parties and they know they are drinking a lot of alcohol. Naturally they won't stop them from going to a party or drinking alcohol - but they don't seem to stop them from getting drunk either. Does drinking alcohol and getting drunk really have to go together? Is it an absolute rite of passage of a young person to get drunk at a party and to be taken to hospital in a comatose state before coming back home after the party? I don't see why this has to happen. It didn't happen to me when I was young, and it shouldn't have to happen to my children, and I am going to try to make sure it doesn't have to happen to my kids either. And I don't see why I can't try to make sure it doesn't happen to them, despite what that cousin told me.

With this in mind, I suppose the parents of the two Golden Dawn members who died of gunshots (to the head and the chest) in yesterday's (most probably) terrorist attack knew that their children (just 22 and 27 years old, as I have been reading in the reports that are now streaming through the mass media about the incident) were going to the regular Golden Dawn Friday night meetings at the party's offices. And I suppose that those parents knew where to find their child if they wanted to get a hold of him (they parents would have comforted themselves by knowing that he has his cellphone). I also suppose that they knew what their child was up to (he's going to a meeting among people of like minds). I suppose they saw their child out the door and they said to him 'keep safe', or some other words to that effect. They wouldn't have expected that on that night, when their child was at a Golden Dawn meeting, their child would die of a gunshot wound to the head or the chest. No one expected that either, except perhaps the police, as this report states - not even the police could have protected us against this attack.

Could the parents have protected their child from being at the wrong place at the wrong time? What did those parents do about keeping him safe in the first place? Could they not have done something more? Did their child have to go to that meeting?

Before that, it was a game. Now, it's war.

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