This mom says every family needs one.
Christina Montoya Fiedler: When I was in grade school, my mom made up a secret code word that only my brother and I knew. If we called and we were in trouble, if someone else other than her had to pick us up from school, if anything seemed out of the ordinary, we would invoke those magic words. The code word was "Gary Gnu," our favorite character from the popular '80s kids show, "The Great Space Coaster."
We thought it was just silly until one day, our mom actually enforced it. My brother and I went to a local Catholic elementary school, where all the moms were prompt in picking their children up after the last bell rang. So, as time passed, and we were the only ones sitting on the school steps for what seemed like hours, a car pulled up. It was our mom's PTA friend, who we did not know very well. She said she was there to pick us up because my mom had an emergency to take care of. My brother and I were hesitant, as we knew we weren't supposed to get into a car with anyone unless our mom said it was OK. My brother and I profusely refused the ride, until she uttered the words, "Gary Gnu," and with that, we hopped in.
A secret code word can save your child's life in dangerous situations. Luckily, ours was not life-threatening, but it could have been if the person coming to "pick" us up was actually a deranged child 'napper.
In the case of an abducted teen that was murdered in downtown Los Angeles this week, she had called her parents twice and was never heard from again. Her parents did not pick up on any anxiety or fear in her voice, but why would they? Her questions were not out of the ordinary. She was asking how to withdraw money from a credit card at an ATM. Police later learned that the murder was the result of a robbery gone wrong. If she'd had a secret code that she could have used while on the phone with her parents, it might have saved her life.
I fully intend to develop a secret code with my son, and to practice it, in case (heaven forbid) he ever has to use it. Believe me, I'm already thinking of a good one right now.
|Christina Montoya Fiedler resides in Los Angeles, CA, with husband Andy and her son Joseph. She juggles baby and work from home as a freelance publicist and attributes her strong love for life and sense of humor to her loving familia.|