Watching the recent Diane Sawyer interview with kidnap victim Jaycee Dugard, I was left an emotional basket case. My husband unsuspectingly walked into our bedroom that Sunday evening to find me sobbing my way through the interview and demanding GPS tracking devices immediately installed in all 3 children.
Besides the obvious empathy a person would have for Jaycee and her family, I also felt an enormous amount of gratitude towards the two campus police officers who simply got a bad vibe off kidnapper Phillip Garrido and finally brought Jaycee home after 18 years.
The women described their basic "maternal instinct" as the reason they chose to act. It got me thinking about my own maternal instincts and whether or not I actually have any. After all, I am not a particularly focused or alert person. I lost Daniel at a block party when he was 2. I never remember to tell the Prompt Care doctors that my kids are allergic to penicillin. I let the boys march up to the counter at McDonald's to get me scalding hot coffee while I run Joey to the bathroom.
Am I a neglectful mother? Didn't I just allow my 7-year-old to accompany his father on some kind of raucous "we're all turning 40" party at some random lake this past week? Initially, I had strictly forbidden any of my children to participate in this adventure, citing the deadly combination of alcohol, water, and small children.
Then I got to thinking. Was I being selfish? Who would save my husband in my stead? Who could report on potential dangers? Who is observant enough to alert people if anything went askew? Due to my belief that this entire weekend water event had not been properly vetted, I felt a trustworthy chaperone needed to be assigned. I just wasn't up for it. But who?
The answer was clear: Daniel. Captain Morality. King of Righteousness and Order. The Prince of Piousness. After all, isn't this the kid who spent the last 2 years advising teachers on which children ran with scissors? In Daniel's book, there are only extremes: good vs.evil, right vs. wrong, what mommy says vs. what daddy says.
The child thinks nothing of telling adults when they are breaking the rules ("excuse me, ma'am...I do believe the life guards said there is no eating on the deck and I'm fairly certain that big bag of Fritos you have there constitutes food, albeit a poor choice and perhaps lacking in basic nutrition...").
Yup. Daniel would make sure my husband and perhaps several of his friends would come back alive and well. Three years of swimming lessons. A strong moral compass. Unyielding focus. I couldn't think of a better appointment.
Daniel did return his father safe and sound in time for a family christening on Sunday. I realized that whatever maternal instincts skipped over me landed squarely on my son's shoulders instead. He is a marvelous watchdog, protector, and humanitarian - at times annoyingly righteous, and other times remarkably kind and loyal.
Now if he could just keep the rest of his family flying right....