Getting into a stranger’s car

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M started walking to school with a friend last week. I’d thought she was old enough to do so, they would be walking together, in the daylight, on main roads. I made sure she left within plenty of time.

The first day everything was fine, although she admitted she was a little late, so we talked about how she had to ensure she walked a bit faster.
The second day, her friend rang and cancelled.
The third day, her friend turns up and off they go. Plenty of time to get there.

Shortly after I get in the car with Mr S and the younger kids, to take them to school. We see M and her friend walking along the road, slowly. I mention to Mr S that she’ll most likely be late again at that rate, and she needed to speed up.

A few seconds later, a voice pipes up from the back. “M just got in a car.”
My heart stops beating. “What car?”
“the black car.”
I don’t recognise the car, or the person driving.

Pulling in behind the other car, I follow it. Mentally I am straining to remember the number plate, while my palms are sweating, and I’m praying it’s all innocent.

Finally, the car pulls in at M’s school, and M gets out. Mr S gets out. He tells M to get into our car. She is due at school, but this talk is far more important.

Driving the other kids to school, Mr S talks to Mae M what just happened. How you can’t trust strangers. She is unapologetic, and has no idea what she did wrong.

I feel stupid. I thought at her age she would understand all the warnings we gave her about not getting into strangers cars. I was wrong.

She is grounded for a month. No phone calls, no school disco, no friend’s houses. I feel justified. I’m sure I lost at least a month off my life.

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