"Even if I killed someone?" I asked.
"Yes, even if you killed someone," she replied without hesitation, before adding the requisite motherly guilt. "But know that I'd be very sad and disappointed."
She never said whether she would turn me into the police. Two mothers have been faced with that choice in the past two months, and both have responded with admirable courage. First, it was Blaec Lammers' mother contacting the Bolivar police about her son's recent purchase of guns and ammunition and likely preventing a copycat shooting at the premiere of the new Twilight movie. And last night, a mother brought her juvenile son to the police station in Kansas City because he is one of three suspects who allegedly attempted to rob Church's Chicken on Sunday night before a quick thinking manager grabbed the gun and foiled the robbery.
It's the easy choice to protect our own. It's easy to avoid believing that someone we love is capable of something evil. "He was such a nice boy" is an easy thing to say after the fact. What's hard is facing the truth and its consequences.
In the wake of tragedy or crime involving young people, we talk often about a failure of parenting. We wonder why they weren't more involved in their children's lives or didn't alert someone to what happened. We're searching for someone to blame, and the weight of that blame more often than not falls on parents. That's because parents can seem oblivious or obstinate in support of someone who is so clearly in the wrong.
All too often we don't recognize when someone understands that their parental duties mean making the hard choice. Love sometimes means protecting those you love from hurting themselves or others. Those who choose to avoid more bloodshed in the community over protecting their own blood deserve to be lauded.