Rant with Randi: How well do we really know people — and how much should we try to do so?
By Randi Crawford
C.S. Lewis once said, “What can you ever really know of other people’s souls — of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole of creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him.”
I just read a story about a girl who was abducted by her mother’s live-in boyfriend, and she was found 10 years later. When they questioned the neighbors, they all said what a great guy he was, and that he was always having fun parties for his wife and family. Do we ever really know people?
Last year, our son started playing lacrosse. It was a lot of fun because several of the coaches were young guys, and they knew how to make it a good experience for the boys. (I say that because so much fun has been taken out of youth sports — but that’s for another rant).
One of the first coaches I met was a guy who approached me because he had coached my nephew for years. In fact, he had been very friendly with my sister’s entire family, and was someone whom she really liked and trusted. She said, “He is the coach that everyone loved — he understood that kids had other sports they played and didn’t expect this to be their one and only priority.” That summer, my son’s team traveled to Denver, and this particular coach traveled with them.
About a month ago, we found out that this coach wasn’t the “cool coach” that we thought he was. On all the local news stations, we saw “X, a former San Diego-area club lacrosse coach, used his connections to monopolize drug sales inside prestigious high schools in another state” (nbcsandiegonews.com). There he was, on the news, in the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, being hauled off to jail. We all looked a few times to be sure the images we were looking at were real, but it was definitely him.
I think it’s safe to say that half of the parents in the lacrosse world in San Diego were in shock. This was not the guy anyone remembered. He was the coach who joked around with all the boys. He mentored the boys, traveled with the boys, and spent a lot of time with the boys. Who is this guy in the orange jumpsuit, going to jail?
To say that it was surreal is a massive understatement. Practices were three hours, so most parents didn’t hang around to watch. We trusted this guy with our kids for hours upon hours, several times a week.
As parents, we rely on the coaches to look out for our kids. It’s a community atmosphere where we place great trust in each other. This situation makes you take a step back and question how well we really know people.
We walk a fine line between hovering and letting go. Some parents sit through every practice, every birthday party, every play date and so on. And then there are the “drop off” parents who pick up when the “activity” is over.
I don’t want to become the parent who doesn’t trust anyone, but following the local news lately is daunting. This is a wake-up call. Our family has personally known every coach that our kids have had, and I can’t say enough good things about every one of them. In fact, we socialize with most of them. That’s the irony of this particular situation. This is the first coach we didn’t know personally, but my sister did, which gave us the comfort we needed.
I’m not advocating walking around with a fingerprinting kit and urine tests, but I think it’s wise to get to know everyone in your bubble. You are entrusting the most precious people in your life to others, so how can you be sure that everyone has their best interest? This applies to teachers, coaches, gate attendants, babysitters, tutors and anyone who has access to your child when you are not there.
I’d love your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.