LUCY CARNE
LUCY CARNE

Never forget, people are kind

THERE we were: two fresh, first-time mums, eating cake and cradling our newborns in the sunshine of our hormonal bubble.

"Do you ever wonder," my friend asked, "how we're going to protect our kids from being abused?"

No, I had not. But with that one question, the bliss of naivety burst. The seed of the anxiety weed was planted and flourishing.

It didn't help that my friend was a psychologist for child abuse victims.

Nor did it help that as a chief-of-staff of metro newspapers, I had encountered the hideousness the awful minority of society were capable of.

As delighted strangers interacted with my daughter in parks, cafes and public transport, my heart would stiffen. Who is this person? What do they want? What could they do?

Not that there was anything wrong with being cautious, but to what extent has 'stranger danger' depleted our trust in humankind?

Has society really become more evil or are we just too fearful?

And then with the sweep of an ultrasound transducer my world of concerned mothering was flipped.

Well, let's be clear. It wasn't the ultrasound to blame, but a lot of red wine coupled with a slight logistical oversight one night with my husband that left me staring dumbfounded at two broad beans on a screen.

Once I had established with the technician that no, this was not someone else's ultrasound result, it hit: twins.

How hard could three babies under three be, I innocently shrugged?

As the Europe correspondent for News Corp Australia, I had survived years of being woken through the night by demanding and emotional people. It surely couldn't be much different.

Oh, how wrong I was.

The broad beans are now one-year-old, non-identical twin boys, affectionately nicknamed Reggie and Ronnie.

Just like the Krays, my boys have a penchant for random thuggery, mostly each other and sometimes the dog, and then legging it from the scene of the crime.

And my sweet baby daughter, you ask? Overnight she became a card-carrying member of Isis, determined to return the family unit back to the old days when she was the sole ruler of our caliphate.

Keeping my three children out of the Lady Cilento is all I am (barely) capable of.

And in an unexpected side effect of this circumstance, I no longer have time to fret over the potential danger of strangers.

In fact, I desperately need them.

On a Straddie beach, when the twins were just a few weeks old, I tandem fed them in our sun tent as our daughter played nearby.

"Right, I'll have a quick dip," my husband helpfully offered.

Lucy Carne and her four week old baby daughter Edith, whose life was soon ruined by the arrival of her twin brothers. (Pic: Richard Dobson)
Lucy Carne and her four week old baby daughter Edith, whose life was soon ruined by the arrival of her twin brothers. (Pic: Richard Dobson)

As soon as he was out of earshot of my screams, the toddler legged it like a mini Mo Farah until she was a tiny speck of fluoro pink rashie on the opposite end of the beach.

Ripping the newborns from my chest, I begged a nearby sunbaker to "watch those babies!"

When I returned, there were my boys safe and sound, happily being smiled upon by a strange woman whose name I didn't even know.

That marked the beginning of my gratitude for strangers.

A week does not go by when I haven't relied on an unknown person to leg it after a runaway, push a swing or hold a pram as I sprint after an escapee.

It really does "take a village", as they say.

Yet in this modern society, our village is no longer extended relatives, but a stranger at the shops or the carpark who steps in to lend a helping hand.

It doesn't have to be a Paris Spider-Man effort, but a simple, random gesture of decency can cut through the cynicism and suspicion clouding our ability to see the good in people.

It's holding open a lift door, offering a shopping trolley or a smile, or even scaling a building to grab your child as it's about to plunge to its death.

That untidy, elderly man at the park is no longer a potential paedophile. He is, thankfully, the first grown-up conversation I've had all day. And I'm probably his.

And that is the simple beauty of the kindness of strangers.

Lucy Carne is editor of RendezView and is currently on maternity leave.



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