Monday, February 11, 2013

Nice story, scary story, and child safety tip

I must say that I enjoyed doing Glendene's blogtalk show this evening. She is a wonderful woman, and put into words so much of what I have felt. Her own daughter, Jessie Foster, has been missing for seven years, and she said, "The only bad thing that has happened to us is Jessie being missing."  All the rest, she said, that has come afterwards, has been filled with good things. If you don't have a missing child, that may be hard to understand, but I understand it perfectly. It is the people who fill up your life, the tremendous amount of love and the depth of understanding and experience. That you yourself are able to somehow reach out and touch others through your own grief, and sometimes even help them or add something to their lives, is a wonderful thing. It is the light of our children who are lost still shining out into the world. "The person who took Jessie was not able to take our family down," she said. And yes, I understand so perfectly, and it is so wonderful to hear this from another parent of a missing child.

During the show I spoke on the phone to a woman named Stephanie who said she has a 14-year old son. I made a note during intermission because I wanted to mention something to her, but it's amazing how you can spend an hour talking and never get to everything you meant to say! As much as we may try to protect our children, there comes a time when they are going to go out into the world, and that happens during the teenage years. So they may weigh 100-150 pounds, and they may be 5 to 6 feet tall -- that doesn't mean they can't be victims, and it doesn't mean we moms worry any less about them. In fact, if anything we are probably going to worry more.

I've always said that I think that cell phones are the greatest child safety devices ever invented. My oldest son had become a teenager before cell phones, and ... well, we won't even talk about that. But they were just starting to become widely available as his younger siblings reached their teenage years, and each of the kids in turn got one. Now I will admit that I used to think that the purpose of a cell phone was for me to be able to call them every 15 minutes and ask if they were okay, where they were, what they were doing, and with whom. I will admit, I annoyed even myself. And eventually I figured out that my frequent calls didn't actually do anything to keep them safe. In fact, if anything it endangered them, if I happened to call while they were driving.

The came smart phones.  I am partial to the iPhone myself for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones is the Find My Friends app. My older daughter actually told me about this. She thought it was pretty cool and she actually signed up for it and encouraged me to. Then I told the rest of the kids, and for the most part they thought it was okay and signed up for it. You can't add someone on this app without their permission. My younger son seemed to be opposed to it on some principle I couldn't figure out. He was over 21, and didn't have to ask my permission to go anywhere, and it's not like he has ever been a bad boy. Finally he agreed to do it, and I think he has been happy with the results. Now if he tells me he is going to San Francisco, I don't call him a half an hour later to see if he got there safely. I just check my app and see that he did, and then I am fine. All the kinds are really happy that I call and check up on them less often, and since nobody has to sneak around nobody cares that I know where they are. (The youngest is 19 now, but that last sentence is a whole topic of conversation in itself that I won't even begin to engage in here.)

Anyway, I promised a scary story, so here it is. Last week, my 19-year old daughter and her boyfriend had been in rehearsal until late, and had stopped on their way home to get some take-out Chinese food. This was about 9:45 at night. I was actually on the phone with my daughter at the time, talking about her college history class, when all of a sudden her voice drops to a whisper and she says, "Mom, call 911."  "WHAT?" I ask, and she whispers again, "Call 911," and hangs up. 

First let me assure you that my first reaction to this is disbelief. In fact, when I was talking today to Glendene about when I first heard that Michaela had been kidnapped, it was a similar reaction. "No, this can't be real." But I tried to call her and she didn't answer, so I started running around in a panic, waking everybody in the house yelling. I just didn't know what to do first. The thing is, I not only didn't know what was going on, or why she had told me to call 911, I didn't know where she was or what she was doing, because we hadn't discussed it! So before calling 911 I called up my Find Your Friends app and located her, so I could not tell them what was happening, but I could tell them that she was at the corner of Lake Chabot Road and Castro Valley Boulevard. 

Not that they seemed to be swiftly dispatching anybody to that location. They just wanted to ask questions, to know just how I knew that's where she was. And meanwhile, as you can imagine, I have visions of ... well, you know what I have visions of.  My son, who is 24 and 6'4", was putting on his shoes and getting ready to go himself.  Before he could leave, though, my daughter called me herself. It turns out that somebody had robbed the restaurant, as well as the three customers who had been there at the time, including my daughter and her boyfriend. They were shaken up, and they'd lost a few dollars, but they were okay. Thank God! 

I was also really, really thankful for this app, because without it what could I have done? Nothing. It would have been pretty useless to call 911 and tell them my daughter told me to call, but I don't know why, and I don't know where she is. It would have left me powerlessly pacing circles in my living room. But with the Find Your Friends App I had useful information to pass along to 911, and I had a place to go when my daughter needed help. 

I have since discovered other parents who use the Find Your Phone app. If your child's phone is on your account, you can set this up without them even knowing.  You just need an e-mail address and the iTunes password for whatever account it is under, which may be yours if your kids don't have their own bank accounts to use for iTunes purchases. In the event you are trying to get hold of your child and they have forgotten to turn the ringer on their phone back on after school, you can also use the Find Your Phone app to make their phone start making noise so they will pick it up and see your hundred text messages. 

Anyway, those are my child safety tips for the day. Stay safe everybody. 

23 comments:

  1. There is also a new app that Marc Klass came out with Polly's Guardian Angel app. I use find my friends app all the time. about the find my phone app, when I was in that car accident last year, I let my sister know quickly and hung up. My family called and called and I didn't answer cause I was talking to dispatch. As you could imagine me being 500 miles away my family was freaking out. My brother hacked into my account and was able to see where I was. It's kind of nice to know that if people really need to find you, as long as your phone is on the odds are higher.

    Jen

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  2. Sharon: First off,I want to say that I'm glad your daughter is ok. I hope she can have some peace of mind after this horrible experience. And my thoughts are with her and you. Recently I remembered,out of the blue,a very scary experience I had as a child. Not sure why but maybe because Michaelas case has brought to light some things in my own life. My mom and her friend and I went out of town one weekend,to a larger city than I live in. I was about 7 years old at the time. We went to a mall that had three levels and we were on the second level in the back where there's a restaurant and a courtyard I'm between taller buildings surrounding the mall. My mom and her friend were outside eating while I was playing I'm the courtyard area near them. I had been playing on a payphone....yes,they still had those then. Anyway,the phone rang and I picked it up. It was a mans voice on the other end. He was saying very vulgar things to me and about me. Then he told me that he was watching me and described what I was wearing. I remember looking all around. I have never been so scared in my life. He went on but I threw the phone down and ran to my mother. It scares me now thinking about what could have happened. To this day I feel like it would have been bad. I hope your daughter can put that robbery behind her and know that she will be alright. Still praying for you and Michaela.

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  3. As a mom to 3 teenage girls I know the running around in a panic thing well. I call it the "Oh My God Dance" One of my girls once called me hysterically screaming saying she was just in an accident then HUNG UP.. I don't know how many seconds of "Oh My God Dance" it took me before I realized I should try calling her back... I have since had a talk with all my girls about starting with the most important information like "I'm Ok"

    Happy your story turned out well in the end and your daughter and her boyfriend are fine! I hope your heart rate made it quickly back to normal too:)

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  4. Thanks very much for the tip, Sharon. When my kids get old enough to use cell phones, I will be using one of these apps - unless of course by that point I can get a GPS chip implanted in each of them, which is what I would do in an ideal world. Why the heck not???

    Cindy

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  5. Wow! Great story and I will have to add the app.

    I enjoyed the show this evening and you did a great job of recapping so many details of the case in one hour! You and Glendene are strong, dedicated moms and I appreciate you both working hard to get their stories out.

    Diana

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  6. Glad your daughter is ok! When I got my daughter (now 19) a cell phone some years ago, it was for the purpose of keeping touch with her. Good luck with THAT! She'd ignore all my calls, but spend the day texting all her friends.

    When she was a freshman at Castro Valley High, she was in the pops program. They had late rehearsals but I told her to call me and I'd be there to pick her up. So one night--it was October and after six and DARK--she calls and tells me she's going to walk home. By HERSELF. And then she hung up on me.

    I jumped in the car and intercepted her at Al's Market on Somerset. She was quite irritated with me and assured me that if anything were to happen, she'd simply call 911. Yeah right, honey!

    I am so pleased to learn about the new ways to keep abreast of our loved ones. Thank you for sharing and I will certainly alert my friends and family.

    I love your beautiful spirit, Sharon, and also Glendene. Bless you for using your tragedy to help new children. Thank you for keeping the light shining, and for your awesome love for your children--a love that helps hold all our children tight.

    Hugs and love to you, Michaela. Come home soon.

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  7. Jackie, thanks, and believe me I know about having the kids ignore calls and texts! They have special ring tones for us, you know, so that they know they don't have to look at it, lol! Your daughter must have been in school with my daughter, since she graduated from Castro Valley High and is now 19. In fact, if she was walking past Al's you must live fairly close to me, since I live off Somerset.

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  8. She was born in 93? My kid attended Stanton Elementary and Creekside. I subbed for about 3 years--maybe I met your daughter? I lived near Stanton/Somerset until foreclosure kicked me out after 16 years! (and no, I didn't have a crazy loan--just lost my job in 2003 and found it hard to get my footing.)

    My daughter transferred up to San Rafael junior year, so she graduated up there. But her class was 2011.

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    1. Yes, she was born in 2003, but in December. She graduated in 2012. She attended CVE and Canyon. She was in Pops, but not until her senior year because that's when she joined choir, but was/is in theater. Possibly they didn't cross paths, since it looks like they only had the one year at CVHS together. Her name is Johnna.

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  9. And Johnna was very bright, to graduate at age 9! (yanking your chain a bit) I subbed at all three, but my memory fades on the names. Will have to think about that one a bit--is she a Murch? That's a beautiful name, by the way! You were really into female versions of male names! I love the name Michaela--I hope she is somewhere safe and warm, and that she comes back to you.

    Soon.

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    1. Her name is Johnna Joy, and it is intentionally in honor of Michaela's name, Michaela Joy. (My other daughter is Elizabeth, Libby for short.)

      And thanks.

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  10. Hi Sharon,

    On a completely different topic, I was wondering if you've ever considered trying to contact a missing persons charity in Russia regarding Michaela's disappearance. I think you said that someone in Russia had contacted you at one point, suggesting that Michaela was in the UAE but "too changed to remember". I'm asking this because I read in the news that the Madeleine McCann search has turned to Russia and that her family is looking for her there through a "missing persons charity". Of course no name of the charity is given, and I have no idea how reliable this news is...which are two of the reasons I'm calling it a long shot. I just thought that maybe if you'd received an email from someone in Russia, then Russia could be a source of information which would be more accessible than the UAE. But this is my completely uneducated suggestion, so my apologies if it's naive and unrealistic.

    Cindy

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  11. Sharon,
    I thanks for the tips. I havealso had the find your phone app for years. Honestly I am surprised you got a live 911 operator. I was in LA on vacation this past Jaunary. One evening I came out of a coffee shop with a friend to discover my rental car had been stolen. When I called 911 I sat on hold for 90 minutes listening to a recording before I was able to speak to a live person.

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  12. Hope everything is going well with you Sharon. Keeping you in our thoughts,
    SR Mom.

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    1. Thanks. I've been thinking I need to come back here and write something, but I just haven't felt as though I have much left to give. Hopefully I will be back soon. I appreciate your thoughts.

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    2. Little wonder that you don't have much to give right now, Sharon, after all you've been through in the past few months. Hang in there and take care of yourself. Your readers will still be here when you're ready to write again.

      Cindy

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  13. Sharon, I missed the radio broadcast. Is it recorded anywhere so I can listen to it? Nancy

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    1. I don't think so, Nancy. I think it is only broadcast live.

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  14. Dear Mrs. Murch,

    Last month when I went on facebook I tried to find the page you maintain for your daughter. I found a page someone created "dedicated" to Michaela and or her stalkers? I thought it was distrubing. I reported it to facebook more than once. Yet it is still on facebook. I do not wish to upset you. If I was a mother of a missing child I would NOT want this thing on the internet. I thought you may have better luck at getting it removed from facebook than I did.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dear-Michaela-Stalkers/115530815178663

    Sincerly,
    Mom in Georgia

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    1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I am hoping that this has to do with another Michaela and not with my Michaela, based on the one comment from a different Michaela. But I will have our detectives check it out anyway, just in case.

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  15. Dear Anonymous,

    I missed the radio broad cast the night it went live. However listeners can still listen to it here:
    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/missingandexploited/2013/02/12/missing-michaela-with-michaelas-mom-sharon-murch

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    1. Thank you! My readers are much smarter than I am!

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  16. Hi Mrs Murch! Its Faith Rose.. Remember me??? Im back! Im really glad the bone sample proved to be someone else....Great news!! Great talking to ya!!
    LOve, Faith

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