A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

It was like any other Sunday night.  I was having dinner with my sons, age 12 and 16.  They had been with their father for the weekend and I casually asked what they did this weekend.  My youngest son answered with the usual remarks, “a friend came over and had a sleepover, we saw a movie another day, and went to my friend’s house for awhile.”  Then I asked my oldest son about his weekend.  He asked, “do you promise not to freak out?”  That made me curious.  I asked again, “what did you do this weekend?”  He said cavalierly, “Well, I was robbed at gunpoint Friday night.”  His tone was so matter of fact, that I thought he had to be joking. I remarked, “no, really! What did you do?”  He responded, “I’m serious.  Daniel (his friend) and I were at Booth Park in Birmingham with a bunch of people Friday night, and were just about to leave since it was getting dark.  Just then, another teenager walked up to us with a bandana covering his face and pointing a gun, and told us to give him whatever we had on us!”  The 4 remaining teens at the park did not have any money on them, so the perpetrator fled the scene.  So did 2 of the 4 victims.  At that point my son called 911 and reported that he was the victim of an attempted armed robbery.  The police came and took the statements of my son and his friend.  Then the officer gave them a ride home.

Wow, not what I expected to hear as an account of the weekend!  Just a few days ago, I picked my son and his friend up from that same park at dusk.  There were toddlers on the playground with their parents, as well as several high schoolers hanging out.  What was an idyllic scene by day, nearly turned into a parent’s worst nightmare by night.  While I realize we can’t protect our children when they are out of our sight, I never expected one of them to encounter something so frightening in a safe, affluent community that we frequent day and night.  It leaves me feeling utterly helpless, yet grateful beyond belief that he was not shot or killed.   I can’t even fathom what depths of despair I’d be in right now if something worse happened.  As bad as this way, I’m fortunate that this scene didn’t turn into a parent’s worst nightmare. 

We teach our kids about random acts of kindness, yet don’t know how to protect them from random acts of violence!  My son impressed me by his maturity in handling this situation. This wasn’t one of those moments I had prepared him for, or discussed with him how to handle.  It never occurred to me.  I don’t know if I could have remained so calm under such extreme stress.  All I can say is a prayer of thanks that my child and his friends were spared from harm.  I hope they nor I ever experience anything like this again.

Can you recall a time in your life when you or a loved one encountered danger, criminal activity, or other stressful event?  How did it impact you?  What lessons did you learn?

  • Share

Lori T. Williams is a 25 year attorney based in Birmingham, MI.  As owner of a legal referral business called Your Legal Resource, PLLC, Lori personally assists individuals and small businesses in need of legal advice or representation in Metro Detroit by connecting them with the right legal specialist to meet their needs. Click here for a pdf of legal referral services. 

Through group training and events, Lori also focuses on referral marketing strategies for attorneys and other professionals. For more information about Lori or Your Legal Resource, visit www.bestlegalresource.com.  For networking events, training programs, and workshop information, visit: www.bestlegalresource.com/events.


5 responses to “A Parent’s Worst Nightmare”

  1. Dave Peckens

    Whoa. While our kids are still a big young to be off on their own, this is a powerful lesson about preparing them for all types of situations. Thank you for sharing this personal story.

  2. Sue

    Wow, Lori!

    That scares me silly. I’m really glad it ended well, but wow! Birmingham was always one of the “safe places” when I was growing up, and I wouldn’t have imputed danger to the area at all.

    So glad your son is safe.


  3. Mike K McClure


    It can happen anywhere. When I was about your son’s age in the small town of Manistee, MI some friends and I were walking home after dark and two houses from my house we were confronted by a pair of teenagers. One had a seatbelf from a car he was snapping like a belt and the other had a knife. We tried to just walk around them, but one kicked one of my friends to the ground from behind and the other put the knife to my thoat.

    It amazes me to this day how calm I was. I neither backed down nor showed outright aggression towards him. I quietly but intensely told him to take the knife away from my throat. He said, “who’s got the knife” I looked him square in the eye and said “you do.” After a moment, he let us go while jeering at us to run home to momma. I guess he was just a punk that wanted to scare someone and seeing I wasn’t scared and wasn’t rising to the bait to egg him on either, he let me go. Always wondered if that was the right way to handle it, just did it instinctively. With someone else, it could have been a stupid move that got me killed. Could be that I’ve always been good at reading people. Could be that I got lucky.

    All you can hope is that, if you raise your kids right, they will react in ways that will, if at all possible, get them calmly out of any jams they get into.

  4. Annamarie Moore

    I went to my local high school during the summer, when I was about 17. I made use of the track and the tennis courts in the courtyard. When I got there, two younger girls (approximately 8 or so) were playing on one of the tennis courts. I used the warm up board on the end.

    I noticed a car pull in to the court yard area and the driver trying to get the attention of the younger girls. I ended up walking over to see what he wanted. He asked me for directions so I went a little closer, and that’s when I noticed that he was naked from the waist down, aroused, and masturbating while talking to me and looking at the little girls. I immediately backed off and went back to the court area, and he drove off. I got his license plate number, told the girls they should go home IMMEDIATELY and explained to them that the man in the car had some obvious mental problems.

    Then I went home (2 blocks away) and called the police. I gave them my statement, gave them the information and the man’s license plate number. A couple of days later, I was asked to review a photo lineup and I picked him out of the 6-pack. Apparently this man had a long history of such behavior, and had just been released from incarceration. Because of what he did on that summer day, he went back to jail.

    At the time, I didn’t think much of it but as I got older, I realized what could have happened if I hadn’t been there and just those two little girls were. I was older and more experienced, and far from sheltered. I was “street smart” in ways that most were not at that age. But those girls were normal little kids, innocent … and ALONE. I shudder to think what could have happened to them.

Leave a Reply