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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Am I being paranoid?

I love the park across the street from us. It is a great place for the girl to run and play and I get to meet up and visit with other parents. But today I had an experience that is leaving me feeling upset and angry. With myself.

Near the end of our time at the park I noticed a man arrive alone. He was in his late thirties or early forties. He had a shaved head, a Che shirt and was carrying a black backpack. I think I was first struck by him because he didn't have a child with him, he didn't meet up with any of the other kids and mothers like some dads do and he didn't head to the basketball court to play with the other men. Instead he headed straight for the wading pool where he proceeded to take a remote controlled car out of his backpack. He soon had the car whizzing around the pool. Of coarse the girl was interested.

The girl was already headed for the pool when she noticed the car. As I stood by the edge of the pool she went to check out the car. The man was racing the car back and forth around the pool. The girl chased it a bit, along with another boy who had joined her. She almost stepped on it at one point. The man steered the car around so the kids could follow it.

Something about the situation felt wrong, but I didn't totally trust myself. Was I being paranoid? As the car was driven closer to the man I called out to the girl and told her that we had to head home. I worry now that I shouldn't have said her name. That this man might remember it and use it later. As she came towards me I heard him asking the little boy that had followed the car "what's your name?"

After leaving the pool I stopped to talk to a friend. "Do you think it is creepy that a single guy is driving a remote controlled car in the pool of a kids park by himself?" "I didn't think of it as creepy" she said. "I thought it was just geeky. But maybe it is creepy". The girl was already headed to the slide but that little boy was in the pool talking to the man. Should I get his mom? She is a very hands off mom (she was on the other side of the park talking to some friends) and I was worried she would just think I was being silly. So I did nothing. I did see her go over a few minutes later and get her son. I don't know if she said anything to the man but he got up and left around that time.

Since I've been home from the park I have been thinking about this situation and feeling like I should have trusted myself. At the time I was worried I was being paranoid and overprotective. Now I do believe that the man was there for the wrong reasons. I feel sick that I let the girl chase his car and interact with him, if only minimally.

After talking it over with the husband we came up with some strategies for what I/ we will do the next time a situation like this comes up. I will go over to the man and say "Hi. I haven't seen you here before. What's your name?" I will also take his picture with my camera phone. If he doesn't like that he can leave. These are both hard for me because they feel like very in-your-face behaviours and that is not me. But I will try. I will do it.

The husband and I also had a conversation about how to talk to a two and half year old about strangers and not scare her. Any suggestions?

Am I being paranoid?

1 comment:

  1. I think trusting your instincts is a good thing, as is being proactive.