Two very weird and scary things happened to me this week and I think writing about them may help me to move on from it so here goes.
Lets start with Monday, I was with my daughter heading into the supermarket, I was a little bit flustered and trying to get a trolley out of a trolley park and a man came in front of me, stood right in front of me and held a sign in front of my face. It happened so quickly I don’t quite remember what it said but basically he was asking me for money. I said no I don’t sorry and continues to move forward into the supermarket. We were both walking in different directions when he turned around started yelling and swearing at me. He then tried to throw what I assume was a stone at me and my daughter. Luckily it missed and he disappeared behind around the corner. All the while my daughter is asking why this man is so angry at us. Now I’m really not sure what his problem was, maybe he was mentally ill, maybe he was just frustrated and having a bad day but I just wanted to get my daughter as far away from the situation as I could.
Next happened yesterday. So only two days after the aforementioned indecent. I had just dropped my daughter of at one of her activities and instead of going all the way home and then back out again I decided to sit at one of the picnic tables at the local park and reply to some emails on my phone and enjoy the brief sunshine. A man had pulled over in his car (by the way this part is not abnormal, this park is the only location of public restrooms in our town so there are always people coming and going) so anyway he pulls over in his car and after a few minutes gets out, lights a cigarette and just starts pacing. (this is when I started feeling uneasy). Then he walks up behind me, and just starts mumbling to himself. He seemed frustrated about something and then just backs away and keeps pacing next to his car. I think this is a bit strange but some people do talk to themselves and they are completely harmless so I’m not making any assumptions, just being observant. Then out of nowhere I hear a lady shout “Get the fuck away from the park you fucking pedophile!” Now to give a little perspective we live in a town of only 1500 people so most people know most people. The man got into his car and began to leave. I got and proceeded to leave as well, then I noticed a little boy playing on his own and decided to stay in the area just in case he came back. Thankfully he didn’t and I saw the little boy go back into his house. Now am I accusing him of being that no, but to not take that accusation as a warning would be stupid. Especially in a town as small as ours where people look out for other people.
Now I managed to catch up with the lady who yelled out her window via our community Facebook group. Another mother in a neighboring town was thanking the community for looking out for her daughter when a man followed her to school in his car. By the looks of the conversation in the group he was well known to the community. I commented and told them I had seen a man hanging around the park yesterday and the lady who yelled out her car at him confirmed that yes that was indeed the same man that had followed a little girl to school, he had also been seen approaching children, loitering around the schools and parks etc. I thanked the lady for making me aware of who he was and scaring him off. She actually circled around and followed him out of town to make sure he was gone. She said that she had seen him watching the little boy playing on his own.
Then it occurred to me that maybe he was frustrated because he saw me sitting there and in fact the child wasn’t there alone as he had thought. The thought of that makes me feel physically sick. Apparently this man is well known to the local police and has been picked up a few times for suspicious behaviour only to be released because he hasn’t legally done anything wrong YET, yet being the operative word. It freaked me out big time and I was really creeped out by the whole experience and realisation that there was a known predator in our area. I was so pleased that my daughter wasn’t with me this time and I am pleased I was there if in fact he was looking for an opportunity to hurt someone.
It prompted me to have another stranger danger talk with my daughter which we have had many times before but I felt like it was time to do it again after this week. Our town kind of looks likes the 1970’s. Kids playing outside in puddles, riding their bikes, walking to the shop and going to the park. I am all for allowing your child to have independence and responsibility but I just can’t do it. If my daughter is playing outside I too am outside. Maybe she’s riding her bike and I’m in the garden I don’t mean that I’m holding her hand at all times but she is always within seeing distance. Does that make me a “Helicopter Parent” probably. But I won’t apologise for it, I trust my kid I don’t trust anyone else.
If you would like more information about talking to your kids about this issue check out some of the links below.
Please also note that the image above is not of one of the men mentioned in this blog post, nor does it accurately describe what they looked like.