Friends, I am so grateful for our network of moms because this story gives me the chills. On Tuesday after school (around 2:45 P.M.), I made the unfortunate mistake of taking all three of my wild children to the grocery store. We were at the critical point where we didn’t have milk or bread or any treats for rewarding good behavior, so off to HEB we went.
I parked in my usual place at the edge of the parking lot, and I didn’t see anything or anyone unusual when I parked. My son and one of my twins had some sort of altercation in between me closing the door to get my purse and arriving on the opposite side of the car to get all three kids out, so one twin was screaming. I decided to hold that twin, and I grabbed my son’s and my other twin’s arms in my left hand and headed across the street.
We got across the street safely, and my son bolted toward the HEB door while my loose twin wiggled her arm free. The twin I was still holding was fussing about something, so I turned to look at her and I lost my focus on my loose twin for JUST a split second.
I looked up, and from out of nowhere, a young, dirty couple was upon my daughter, touching her head and separating her from me and my other two kids. They were ushering her into the parking lot. As soon as they touched her, she started to SHRIEK. All of a sudden, she was yelling and I was yelling for her to get back to me, and the couple broke apart and walked off like nothing happened—without saying a word.
This would have been weird enough on its own, but I rushed my three into the store and toward the baskets, and I noticed the couple had followed me. By the grace of God, the kids were essentially pinned in between two rows of baskets because there was only one “driving cart” left, and it was surrounded by rows of regular carts. This allowed me time and protection to get all three kids safely into the cart (side note: I had to bribe my four-year-old son with Popsicles and gum to get him to agree to ride in the basket). I backed out of the long row of carts with all three kids, and this couple was still behind me. My “Mama-dar” was on high alert, so instead of starting my shopping, I headed toward the pharmacy where I knew there would be managers with access to a phone to all security. The couple followed me, and when they realized I was staying put until I have some assistance, they disappeared out the front of the store. The manager tried to go find them, but they were gone.
This freaked me out and made me SUPER thankful to have all my kids with me. I was thinking I would post this on my own blog to tell my friends, and that would be the end of it. Well, I was at dinner the other night and told my girlfriends about what happened and that I was going to blog about it…and my friend Elizabeth gave me the strangest look and said, “That just happened to me too!”
Elizabeth had been at the same HEB at the same time of day just the day before. Her situation happened where this couple, along with a third man, was walking into HEB with Elizabeth and her daughter from the parking lot. As they were walking through the doors, the woman started to walk backwards, pointing at Elizabeth’s daughter and saying, “She’s cute!” and “Look at her!” while pointing to the men and trying to touch the child. Elizabeth did the right thing and got super defensive, putting her daughter in the cart and moving away quickly. She told me that she still felt like they were around the store watching her the entire time she shopped—the eerie feeling of being watched lingered with her the whole time.
Like me, Elizabeth was grateful that all was well, but didn’t think to file a police report or really pursue things any further—that is, until we talked and agreed that this was NOT a coincidence.
Thanks to many great people, Dya Campos from HEB contacted me this morning to figure out how they can help. We are still in the process of figuring out who these people are, but we needed to warn other moms. What I learned from Dya, however, is that if you are in or around HEB and something happens that makes you uneasy, TELL THE MANAGER! HEB wants to keep all their shoppers safe, especially the littlest ones. You are not a pest; you are helping keep yourself and others safe.
Moms, summer is almost here. This means kids are going to be out and about more than ever and, sadly, the bad people know this. Here are some suggestions to help keep yourself and your kids safe:
- Remember to always be vigilant about observing your surroundings.
- This totally applies to me and I need to get better about it for sure, but PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY! You are distracted by your phone and not watching your kids when you are texting, even if it is at the park or HEB. Text from your house.
- Strap your kids into the carts at HEB, Target, Walmart, etc. The straps will keep them safe from people grabbing them AND from them taking a nasty fall.
- Remind the other people who care for your kids about the dangers that are out there. This includes dads, grandparents, nannies, carpool, whoever. Everyone needs to stay alert.
- Report suspicious people. Program non-emergency police numbers in your phone—SAPD’s is (210) 207-7273.
Stay safe, fellow mamas, and if we all work together, this village can protect and nurture all our kids.