I Hate Those Stories

I hate those stories that start "A friend of a friend said this happened" or something along those lines.

Standing in the School Playground this morning, slowly freezing whilst we waited for the bell to signal it was time for the children to exit the Playground and make their way to their Classrooms, a group of Mums standing near by was suddenly brought to life when another Mum burst into the middle of them.

Top Ender and Dan Jon ready for School

"Oh. My. G--!" She screached. "You will never guess what a friend of mine reposted a friend of her's on Facebook."

I thought I had discreetly rolled my eyes, but my own little circle of Parent Friends caught the so called discrete gesture and all immediatly hushed down to also listen to this other conversation being relayed a few feet away.

The screachy Mum was retelling a story where a little girl had been at the local playground and a suspicious "bloke" asked if she wanted to see the Kitten he had in his car. The little girl of course acquiesced and started following this "bloke" to the car to see the Kitten. It was at this point that another Mum in the playground saw what was happening and started screaming at the little girl to come back to the playground and keep away from the man she was following.

"She couldn't run after the little girl, as she had her own two little ones with her"

The bell rang at this point, and there was a flurry of children rushing for kisses from their parents before going to their classrooms and the conversation was stopped, so I thought I'd missed the end of the story. As I left the playground however, I got "trapped" between some of the group of parents that were having the story told to them and ended up hearing the rest as we funnelled down the alley by the School.

The rest of the story was about how the "bloke" had run off, that the little girl came back to the playground and her Mum hugged her and told her that she should never leave with strangers and all was right with the world, but that her group of Mum friends should let other Mum's know so they could be on the look out for suspect "blokes" asking children if they wanted to see the Kitten they had in their car.

I resisted asking if the Police had been called.

I resisted asking if the incident had taken place in Milton Keynes.

I resisted asking if the woman knew the person who had posted this on Facebook, or if it was just a grown-up version of Chinese Whispers.

Why did I not ask these questions?

Well, depsite me thinking that this story is very obviously not true, that kind of doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter if the facts don't add up, it doesn't matter if it took place here or in Timbuktu. It doesn't even matter if this was posted on Facebook by someone who nobody knew personally and is just a grown up version of Chinese Whispers, where the story gets passed round and round and details added and lost as it circulates around parents.

The parents that hear that story are going to be a little more alert the next time they are in the playground with their children. They are going to watch their children a little more closely, maybe even putting down their mobile phones as their children swing from the monkey bars to ensure that no harm comes to them.

The parents are going to hold their children a little closer and thank the heavens that their child is safe and with them.

And so as much as I hate those stories, as much as I detest seeing them on Facebook, with Parents sharing them and frightening each other I know that they do as much good as they do harm and so I won't raise the difficult questions, or fact check them and instead I'll hold my own children a little closer and remind them of the rules that we have and hope that we never become one of those stories.