Summer is special for me and my two sons. There is baseball, of course, and fishing, fireworks and swim lessons, camping and neighborhood bike rides. Last week, I found myself in that classic dad moment running behind my five year old giving encouragement, high fives and hugs as he pedaled his bike without training wheels. This is the good stuff.
When my son Emmott was 3, I took him to see his first fireworks in Congress Park near my home in Saratoga Springs, NY.
It was a muggy July night as we negotiated the traffic and found parking. I put him on my shoulders and we hiked down to the park, working our way through the crowd until we found a spot with a good view. Emmott’s excitement grew as the light faded. “When fiwoks Daddy?” “Where fiwoks Daddy?”
I expect you know what happens next. Most good fireworks shows get your attention with some really loud, low level flash bangs. Emmott turned to me terrified. He covered his ears and he buried his head into my chest and he begged me to take him home. I thought maybe if we got through the low level flash bangs to the gentle popping and cascading colors he would be ok. Wrong.
30 seconds was all it took. Total terror. Game over.
I carried him back through the heat, through the crowd, through the traffic to our car; his arms wrapped around my neck, his face buried in my chest. The thing is, it was annoying. Strapping a toddler in his car seat, getting downtown, parking and finding a spot away from the shirtless, drunk, swearing guys, on a hot night, only to turn around and head for home is not the most fun you are ever going to have. By the time we made it back to the car we were a hot sweaty, teary mess. But the thing is, at the same time, it was a really a sublime moment for me and one I will never forget. My child, terrified, turns to me as his protector. My arms, neck, chest all shield him from danger, my presence his reassurance.
Children all around the world face more terrifying threats than 4th of July fireworks.
For those of us who have engaged in the global movement to end child trafficking and exploitation, we are exposed to children and stories that make us want to wrap our arms around a child to comfort and shield them from terror. Outside of a trusting, long term relationship, that would actually be pretty weird.
But there are ways you can be a shield and a comfort
for a vulnerable or trafficked child:
You can be an activist, on your own or with others:
If you are a person of faith, as so many of our supporters are, you can pray.
Sign up for monthly prayer requests from Love146:
Support programs that protect vulnerable children and the caring staff
that wrap loving arms around survivors.
Happy 4th of July. Make part of your celebration joining us in working for freedom.