Today, my Mother in law and I took the girls to the splash pad. The day was gorgeous, 90 degree weather, the sun was shining, there was a slight breeze blowing. It was the perfect type of day to take the girls to a wonderful wholesome fun family activity; the local parks department splash pad. My girls are water babies and in the heat, the splash pad is the safest way for preschoolers to beat the heat…or so I thought.
We arrive and the girls are overcome with excitement, dressed in the new bikinis that their Grandma ChaCha had gotten them for this visit. Bella was over the moon about the cheetah print bikini with the hot pink piping on the edges and Gabi was sporting a red, white and blue striped bikini as beautifully as only a 3 year old American girl next door could. They were absolutely adorable.
It was seriously about 100 degrees out, so the splash pad was packed with children running through the glistening cool water.At first the girls were filled with trepidation, it was a little overwhelming with all of the bigger kids running about but soon they became acclimated and were having the time of their life.
Grandma ChaCha and I sat on the bench ,looking on at the girls, mentally recording every grin and smile. Then I started snapping pictures because the girls were just too irresistible not to. It was another one of those days that you just knew memories were happening. Then it all changed.
The splash pad is in the middle of a public park. We had noticed early on that there was a man training a Border Collie. I am always uber aware of our surroundings. I am a people watcher by nature.We thought it was ridiculous but hey , it was his dog and whatever…. we had human babies to watch. Then the man walked his dog over to the splash pad. Not necessarily a great thing to do but whatever, as long as he kept the dog close to him and kept it away from the children. Of course, every single child ( with the exception of mine) ran over to pet the obviously dehydrated Border Collie. My children asked but, first I don’t let my kids pet strange dogs and second, quite frankly, something about this man gave me the heebie jeebies…before he even opened his mouth to talk. He kept skulking around, watching the kids run through the fountains as they sporadically came up to him and asked to pet the dog. It felt like he was one of those guys who uses their dogs to pick up girls but these “girls” were actually “girls” ages 2- 13. I kept my girls close without alarming them…or him. But for some reason, he kept gravitating toward where we were. He kept circling where we were sitting, and then he came in for conversation. The girls were oblivious but he kept smiling at them and trying to engage my Mother in law and myself. At first, I was pleasant. After all, I wasn’t raised in a cave but then things got weird. He smiled at my 3 year old, practically salivating and licking his lips ( like a man who is speaking to Pamela Anderson while she’s wearing her bikini) and says, “My , you sure are a cute little thing!” And then he proceeded to keep trying to chat up me and my Mother in law.Now, it wasn’t exactly what he said but how he said it and the way he was looking at my girls that sent off my Mommy intuition/alarm. I don’t leave anything to chance when it comes to my daughters , I’d much rather insult an adult with my over protectiveness than let my child get hurt because I was too trusting and I think most parents understand that view point. Our children are the priority,all else is less important…period! Then I noticed him sizing up my 5 year old, as he was talking.I felt my skin crawl. At this point, I was despondent towards him and pretty much ignoring his very existence.My main focus was trying to figure out how the hell to get out of this situation short of saying,”Can you please get your creepy mind the fuck off my children you sick bastard!!” So, I tell my girls…”5 minutes, we’ve got to go meet Grandpa!” My Mother in law, looked like she was on high alert as well, so something was definitely not right with this man. He continued trying to engage us, then it went completely creepy. He proceeds to talk at us and tell us that he was in the service but came out and immediately had himself fixed ( why would you tell a complete stranger this? I think what he meant to say was after he was caught for being a molester he was chemically castrated!) because he didn’t want children ( then why are you hanging around the splash pad full of children, Chester?) and he continues to say that it is so easy to have kids, “You blink and you have like four kids!” Something in his tone was as if he were implying that children were disposable. I know you may be thinking to yourself, this woman is completely overreacting. But if you were there, you know that feeling you get when something is most definitely not right with someone? That was the feeling that I had. My stomach was in knots; this man had me about to vomit he made me so nervous being around my children. I suddenly felt creeped out and insulted simultaneously ( it was a train wreck of creepy activity) It felt like that any minute he was capable of pulling out a knife and grabbing my girls and running off…in broad day light…he was that CREEPY!! I grabbed my girls with nothing more than a ,” Let’s go.” I covered them up and we left. Normally, I would have changed them in the car but this freak started following behind us. I was prepared for battle. I was pissed, freaked out, and scared all at the same time. Endorphins was oozing from my pours.My fight or flight response was in overdrive.I have never come in contact with someone whom, I felt, actually were a threat to my children. But this man made me feel afraid for them. It was reminiscent of that scene in the original Texas Chainsaw massacre when the creepy guy gets in the van and then cuts himself and they are stuck in the van with him. You know you don’t want him there, but you are afraid of what might happen if you spook him, Needless to say, we will NEVER go to that splash pad again..EVER.
The moral of the story; it is our moral obligation that if something feels wrong for our children,as their protectors, we must do whatever it takes to keep them safe, no matter how crazy it seems.My only regret is that I didn’t call the cops on this guy for lurking around the splash pad accosting mothers and leering at children and that I didn’t grab my girls and run the minute he looked in their general direction. By the time we left, only about 10 minutes had passed from start to finish but I felt dirty and violated.What do you think? Did I over react? Or does Mommy intuition trump all rhyme or reason?