I think that when we become parents, we get this sensor from God that allows us to sense when something just isn't quite right regarding our kids. We get that feeling if some skeevy stranger approaches and shows too much interest. We get that feeling if another kid seems to be treating our kid poorly. That feeling shows up sometimes when we least expect it and just won't go away until we make sure our little ones are safe. I think when God gave me this sensor, he turned it way up...like into overdrive. I tend to be constantly wary of those around my kids and how they interact with them. Especially other adults. Now, let me first say that I don't always act on this because I really do understand that I can't isolate my kids since I'm way too overprotective but there are times that you just know that you know something isn't right. Maybe I watch too much news, maybe I'm just being a mommy who wants her kids to get through life without some of the horrible things of this world scathing them along the way. Whatever the case, my radar has been glaring a little more lately.
A couple of weeks ago, we were at a local mall having a family fun day. There's a cool play area in this mall and since the weather had been less than pleasant that week, it was our chance to get out and play! And eat chocolate from Godiva! While there, we humored Sister and went down to the Hello Kitty store (Sanrio, for those of you without an obsessed three year old). While in there marveling at the wonders of a cute cat with a huge head, two young women approached us. They weren't working there, they were just shopping. They seemed very interested in our kids and they kept asking if they could take pictures of them. I mostly ignored them because no, you can't take pictures of my kids you strangers and because I'm just like that. They followed us and really freaked the kids out after a moment. My husband, Lord love him, was all like, "Let the nice ladies take your picture! C'mon guys you don't have to be shy!" They are both a little on the shy side with strangers and were hiding behind my legs at this point. I just politely told the women after a few minutes that they weren't interested in talking or having their pictures taken. They finally moved on to someone else in the store and took their kids pictures. Afterwards, I
kicked husband in the shin shot him the look that said I wasn't ok with what just went down. He told me this whole story about how his cousin did some modeling in Japan years ago and ran into that type thing all the time because he was young with blonde hair and blue eyes and that the entire culture there was just fascinated with Americans like that. Whatever dude. I just want to protect my little blonde, blue eyed kids from any stranger trying to take their picture and do whatever they please with it. Did I over-react here?
THEN. Last night we were at the Air Show at our AF Base. There's a good size kids section with all of the blow up jumpers and obstacle course things and such. Our kids went over and jumped and then Sister wants to go inside the obstacle course jumper thing. I could see that there were mostly kids her age in there and Daddy decided he'd go in with Brother because he was scared. There was a section of this thing that wasn't readily viewable from the parent's waiting area but since Daddy was going in, I let her go. She paid her ticket and took off. Daddy goes in with Brother next and about half way in decides he has to give in to the screams and scratches of Brother and come back out. He didn't love it and was terrified by the time they came out. So, now Sister is in there alone. No big deal, she comes out within a minute of when Daddy came out. After we left the kids area and were heading down the runway towards snacks, she says, "There was a man inside of that obstacle course. He told me which was was the right way to go." Husband and I shoot each other "the look".
"What do you mean, a man? Like a Daddy with his kid?"
"No, just a man, standing in there. He was big like a Daddy."
"Really? Did he touch you to help you climb over anything or he just told you the right way to go?"
"Well, I was like, wow, which way do you go? And he was like, I think it's that way."
Ooookay. I dropped it. Still getting the look from Husband though. Ten minutes later, she brings it up again. Pretty much the same conversation as before. Just making sure we know that there was a big man in there that told her the right way to go. We tried not to make a big deal out of it but on the inside I'm gut kicking myself for letting her stay in there when her Daddy came out with Brother. I was right there, but anything could have happened in that 4 foot space that I couldn't see from the Parenting Post. Why was a man in there? Maybe it was innocent. Maybe he was a Dad who didn't let his kid go in alone. Maybe not. I don't know but I'll tell you what, I learned my lesson and my kid won't go in alone next time. I'm still reeling from this reality today that we live in a world where kids aren't safe without someone looking out for them. And, even then, there are no guarantees.