Today, I took my son to school knowing I was leaving him to get on an airplane for yet another meeting out of town. Granted, it's only an overnight trip to Portland, OR; however, I was gone for two nights last week and one night earlier this week.
Over the weekend he admonished me that I need to get a different job such as a "mechanic because they know how to do cool things, make lots of money, and don't have to travel."
It is heart breaking enough to leave my family even for short periods, but it's been even more difficult as our son matures enough to think about time. And he is getting older by the minute it seems from First Grade to losing teeth to learning to read.
But, as he gets older, all the evils of the world descend into my psyche. Today, when I left him at school, he walked toward the gate, turned, and waved goodbye. I could see the love in his face. I hoped he didn't see the tears and fears in mine.
"Fears" because like parents throughout time, I worry about him. It goes beyond simple happiness. It is fear of basic physical safety in these troubling times.
When I was a kid, for the most part, we didn't worry too much about evil in the neighborhood. We didn't think twice about riding bikes and walking to school. I was in the Cub Scouts, and who would have known that 42 years later, the very first responsibility I have as a parent of a new Cub Scout would be to read him the first chapter of the Cub Scout handbook that outlines his expected responses to inappropriate sexual advances. Wow....
So, today as he walked away from me, my little boy with his bright smile, his camo backpack, and his bountiful future in front of him, I thought not only of the Cub Scout hand book that now mandates I confront my son with evil before he even turns 7 years old, but also of the disgusting debacle that is the Penn State sexual scandal involving men in authority who sacrificied young boys at the altar of collegiate athletics.
Men who did disgusting things to little boys like my son were shielded from retribution by people like the fallen Joe Paterno because glory, championships, and money were more important than integrity and protecting young boys.
And, I watched in disgust as pretentious, elitist students protested the necessary Paterno ouster evidently believing that Paterno and his staff turning a blind eye to the rape of little boys by a member of his staff was OK so long as the team was winning. These myopic idiots should look at their own kids, nephews, cousins, etc. and ask "What if it had been one of them?" I think their stupid defense of molestors and their co-conspirators would wither away in embarrassment and realization of the devasting facade on which their athletic success was based.
There will be a special place in Hell for Paterno and his ilk. Prior to taking the elevator to their just rewards, those most culpable for this disgusting horror story will, hopefully, spend the rest of their lives in prison where they can pin their certificates, pennants, and accolades on the walls of their cell.
At least Paterno is old enough that his date with destiny is at least imminent. The boys he essentially allowed to be victimized have years left to live with the horrors he helped inflict by his indifference as he sought money and accolades at their expense.
But for me, it reminds me again about how important it is to protect my little boy who waved goodbye to me this morning as he walked into school. How will I know? What more can we do to make sure he is safe?