Children are a gift, a treasure, a blessing.
As a dad, I’ll never understand parents who abuse their children. And I can’t begin to fathom parents who would kill their own kids.
Yet it happens.
One of the latest horrific examples occurred in Dallas, where I live.
Naim Rasool Muhammad confessed to kidnapping two of his sons, ages 3 and 5, from their mother and drowning them this week in a Dallas-area creek before leaving their lifeless bodies on the muddy bank, according to court documents and police.
Funeral services will be held Saturday for the boys, Elijah and Naim. The latter had just started kindergarten.
It’s gut-wrenching to read stories about this tragedy in the Dallas newspaper. Naturally, readers are outraged.
“Hang him like they used to,” one wrote online.
“Trial? Jury?” wrote another. “Forget it. He has the right to shut up while they put the needle in his arm.”
The 32-year-old father, who has a history of domestic violence, is being held in jail on $2 million bond.
His court-appointed attorney made this all-too-obvious comment in the paper: “We don’t feel that he’s in his right mind at this time.”
Prosecutors say they may seek the death penalty against Muhammad.
If anyone deserves it, he does. He didn’t kill adults. He didn’t kill teenagers who at least could have resisted.
No, Muhammad drowned two little boys – his boys – in what must have been a very easy act.
What were those boys thinking in the last minutes of their life? Where is Dad taking us? What’s he going to do?
This story affected me profoundly. It seems we usually read about mothers who kill their kids. There was Andrea Yates, a Texas mom who drowned her five kids in her bathtub. There was Susan Smith, a South Carolina mom who drowned her two young sons, leaving them in the back seat of her car and letting it roll into a lake.
This time, the devil is a dad. One of us.
For whatever reason, I’m more willing to consider an insanity defense for a mom who kills her kids. But a dad? I don’t care what his twisted reason was for killing his kids.
Muhammad should be found guilty of first-degree murder. The only question: What to do with him?
If you were on his jury, would you vote for the death penalty? I would. Is that morally correct? I don’t know.
I may approach this murder differently than some dads. All children are precious, but my 11-year-old son is a miracle – literally.
His mom and I tried unsuccessfully for years to have a child. We even tried in vitro fertilization, and it failed.
The doctor advised us to give it up. Don’t sink any more time, emotion and money into trying to have a kid, he said. It’s not going to happen. Medically, there’s no way.
He was wrong. About a year later, my ex-wife told me she thought she was pregnant. I scoffed. She bought a pregnancy test at the drug store. It was positive. Still, I scoffed.
“Remember what the doctor said,” I told her. “We can’t get pregnant.”
She scheduled an appointment with a doctor. We made a deal: If she were pregnant, she would message me on my pager (back when people still carried pagers). And she would type in “911.”
So I was at my computer, typing away, when I heard the pager go off. I looked at the message: 911.
Suddenly, I felt faint. I remember dropping my head and taking a deep breath. Then I got up and walked aimlessly around the office, until the news sank in.
I was going to father my first child – at age 41. After being ready for so long during the fertilization attempts, now I felt completely unprepared.
A baby? How can I take care of a baby?
About eight months later, I found out. Connor was born – a 7-pound, 13-ounce healthy boy with a full head of black hair. I was jealous.
In the 11 years since then, I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a dad. I’ve lost my temper at Connor. I’ve said hurtful things I shouldn’t have.
But I’ve never thought of hurting him. I’ve never thought of killing him.
How could Naim Rasool Muhammad?
How could anyone?
Cherish your kids. Love them with all your heart every day. Unfortunately, not every parent does.