Parenting and the 'Balloon Boy'
Last Thursday, October 15, 2009, I spent the afternoon watching CNN for news on the whereabouts of six year old Falcon Heene, aka "The Balloon Boy". Was he in the balloon? Had he fallen out? Or, had he never even climbed into it? Twitter was ablaze with worries and speculation.
As I waited for word, I found myself thinking back to 1987 and the drama that unfolded when little baby Jessica McClure was trapped in a well in Midland, Texas. I was beside myself at the time because my son was the same exact age as Jessica. I kept picturing him trapped like that for days and kept yelling at the television for them to rescue her already. I was crazed because I don't think there is anything worse than a child suffering.
I wasn't sure why, but as I watched CNN last Thursday I didn't have that strong a reaction. I don't think it was because my children were now grown. Anyone that is a mother can relate to the pain of a child and a family no matter the age. I think it was because I sensed that something wasn't kosher.
It didn't take long for it to come out that the boy's parents, Richard and Mayumi Heene had pulled a publicity stunt. Speculation began even before Falcon was even found in the attic of the family garage, and kept on growing. Today authorities officially announced that they are going to recommend that charges be brought.
I can't understand how anyone can put their own personal gain ahead of the well-being of their kids. The emotional trauma that this event can have on Falcon and his brothers can be severe and long-lasting. Asking a child to deceive an entire country and lie on television is tantamount to child abuse, at least in my mind. The sight of Falcon vomiting on TV shows how upset he was.
I'm not even going to get into what Richard and Mayumi Heene did to us, the rest of the country that watched and waited and worried. That is nothing compared to what they did to their kids. Although I do worry that the next time a child is in trouble we might not fully believe it. That would be a real crime.
Original 50-something Moms Blog Post by Jennifer Wagner who also writes at the New York Examiner and Connect with your Teens through Pop Culture and Technology