What is it about fatherhood that makes you want to become Bernie Goetz?
I’m not sure I want to know but I can say that, for the past three-and-a-half years most any story that pops up about parents or others harming children makes me want to turn into a screaming mad vigilante.
There were two examples this week and they just about made my blood boil.
One was the father in Springfield who picked his kids up at daycare, drove them to the parking lot of his wife’s business and set the entire car on fire – killing himself and the two innocents. The mother had to be hauled away in an ambulance in a shock that will probably never wane.
One of my coworkers, also a father, said it best: “I wish I could have been there so I could pull him out of the car and then kill him myself.”
Same goes for the rocket scientist in Indiana who flew a plane into his mother-in-law's house – with his 8-year-old daughter in the co-pilot’s seat. His message to his ex-wife before the crash: “I’ve got her and you’re not going to get her.”
In the background, the mother heard little Emily saying, “Mommy, come get me, come get me.”
Add them to the sad roster of demented parents like Susan Smith, Andrea Yates, Kenneth Seguin and Jeffrey MacDonald. And don’t even get me started on relative strangers or caregivers who kill – like Louise Woodward.
I used to shake my head at these crimes. Now that I’m a father, I want blood. And, to be blunt, I’m not very apologetic about it.
I think it’s just plain healthy. I live in daily fear about what will happen to my kids that day. I drive safer, I eat safer, I play safer, I live safer. Having those four eyes look up at me every morning (particularly two little boys who look at me for protection, for safety and, gulp, as a role model), makes me want to live longer and better.
So if it’s a given that my hand clutches more tightly around theirs when a weird dude approaches in the parking lot or that I look at the lady in the grocery store like she’s crazy when she just reaches out and touches my baby without warning, it only stands to reason that I’d believe the willful act of a parent hurting – or killing – his own child is the living breathing example of evil.
I only trust in moments like this that there is a heaven, for the innocents, and a hell, for the guilty.