Saturday, 25 April 2009

Shameful thoughts

Today at the park, there was a lone man sitting on a bench watching the kids swing. Something about him irked me. The baby swing was free so this was my chance to get Deaglan on.

It’s a terrific park but there is only one baby swing which means there is usually an informal line-up. Parents with kids around Deaglan’s age keep an eye out from wherever they are in the park in wait for it to free up.

There were a lot of parents and kids out, thanks to the balmy weather. But this man sitting alone facing the swings had no children with him, he wasn’t holding anyone’s sippy cup or hat, and wasn't even dressed for the park on a gorgeous spring day.

While I pushed the swing, I periodically looked to the other parents of swinging kids. A few of them also kept glancing over at this man. I don’t know how long he had been sitting there prior to Deaglan and me pulling up, but it was obvious that people were steering their children to other parts of the park.

What kind of grown man sits at a children’s park alone on a busy Saturday? The giddy mindset I’d had all morning vanished and was replaced with suspicion and anger. Is this guy a pervert? Aren’t we supposed to be warned about the release of pedophiles into our community??

Yes, I went all the way there.

My swirling thoughts were now so malignant that I considered approaching some of the other parents to ask if they too were leery of this lone man.

Just then a woman walked toward him and they embraced. I overheard bits of their conversation and apparently he worked at one of the car dealerships across the street and had taken off early to enjoy a nice walk in the park with his wife.

I never felt so ashamed in my life.


  1. You know what? It truly is a bit better to be leery of something that seems "off" or even to be downright uncharitable and suspicious when it comes to your child.

    You can never tell with people: in Northern California a female Sunday School teacher has just been arrested for kidnapping, raping and murdering an 8 year old neighbor girl who was friends with this woman's own daughter.

    In a day and age where sad, sick and tragic things happen every day, it is better to be on your guard and apologize later, than to get hurt (or worse: have your child hurt!)while trying to be polite.

    (I'm not trying to be a big, dark downer on a beautiful weekend, I'm just trying to say that you shouldn't be too hard on yourself.)

  2. Well, it was a tricky situation, a man without kids in a park... No wonder you got cautious, it's takes only once to lose so much...Better to be safe than sorry! I know I sound preachy:)

  3. I'm a paranoid mommy but sometimes I just need to not be so judgmental. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. I love the photo.
    It is right and normal to be protective.

  5. It's sad that our thoughts come to this conclusion first, because of a few bad apples.

  6. Kim, I would have thought it was suspicious too. We live in a scary world at times. Moms do have to always be aware of suspicious behavior near our children. It's too bad that a man sitting alone on a bench has to be under our scrutiny. So don't feel bad about your thoughts. You're just being a good mom.

  7. The world, our has come to this. It's scary. But..always always better to be aware and dilligent.

  8. I did the same thing last year, Kim. I am not sorry. I would take any hell, than let that happen to my child. I would have just been cautious, not said anything, but on high alert just the same. Sometimes I take down number plates of cars, memorise suspicious looking people, write the time down on a scrap of paper. Just do a mental apology to the man and forget it.xx

  9. I would have done the same thing... but hey, it's better to be safe than sorry.

  10. oh lord, i was fearing the worst and it reminded me of that disturbing book called 'little children'. i am glad he was harmless. whew.

    i recently heard that men have a tough time becoming teachers at the grammar school level. i guess most parents do not want to chance trusting a man with their young children.

    this is disturbing on many levels, but protecting kids seems to take precedence.

    i am not sure what the answers are here. wah.

  11. OH, this so would have been me, thinking the exact same thoughts. Unfortunately the media and those occasional nuts make us wary even when we ought to let our guards down. But better to be safe, right?

  12. That was brave of you to write. I would have felt badly too, but I think it's natural to be leery. As a Mom, we are instinctively protective of our kids.

  13. Wow, been there, so---done that! I was at a movie with my family and "thought" a forty-year-old man was making out with a 13-yr-old girl. After, fidgeting, being disgusted, sending my husband to tell the manager, and wishing ill will to this man, the movie ended. When we were in the lobby, I realized he was with a very young looking woman, but a woman.

    I am passionate about the protection of any and every child. Just as you care for and are protective of your son. We are momma-lions protecting our cubs. If more adults would have that attitude, we could protect more. Yes, this sometimes will come with shame. But, so be it. Their protection is worth it.

    I learned a lesson that day. But will always be on guard, just in case...peace

  14. I think I would have been suspicious, too, but would have chalked it up to too much Nancy Grace. It's so important to be aware, for the sake of protecting our children, but it's a shame we feel like we have to live in fear.

  15. Being cautious is understandable. I'm sure there must be something else you've done to be more ashamed of.


Thanks for your comment!