Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

The birds!

The birds!

I took the kids to a park that has a manmade lake with ducks. There’s a big sign that says “Don’t Feed The Ducks” but it doesn’t say anything about the pigeons so I let the kids throw some crushed rice cakes to the birds. Within seconds, a huge swarm of pigeons surrounded my son, which he thought was hilarious. It was pretty funny until a weird dude (by weird I mean a topless version of the “French model” in the State Farm commercials) walked by and spooked the birds. He bizarrely caught one of them as it flew by and held it upside down by its feet. Before I could register what was going on, he called my son over and said, “Boy, look at this bird.” My trusting 4-year-old walked up to the man to look at the bird as I yelled, “Don’t touch it!”  For the first time in like forever he obeyed me and started chasing the birds that were still on the ground instead. The man dropped the bird and kept walking and that’s when I realized that my daughter was way too close to the lake’s edge. I screamed for her to get back and then I lost control all together, grabbed both kids by the hands and rushed them back to the car. I tried to explain that I wasn’t mad at them but scared that they were going to fall into the lake. My son is notorious for hugging and telling strangers that he loves them and teaching him “stranger danger” has been a challenge. I told him that when a stranger asks him to come over and look at something, he should never go unless he asks me first. I’m sure I scared and annoyed the crap out of both of them because nothing that was coming out of my mouth made sense, even to me.

The whole thing put me in a funk. Not just because of my No Nelling challenge but because I felt scattered and confused. I couldn’t make sense of what was going on before I reacted because it happened so fast. In reality, nothing really happened at all. The weird dude was just a man exercising, which probably explains why he wasn’t wearing a shirt. A flock of birds flew at him and he probably reacted on instinct when he grabbed the bird. He probably thought it would be a cool thing for a kid to look at up close. The bird, in all actuality, was probably not carrying an antibiotic-resistant strain of bird flu that would kill on contact. My daughter probably would’ve fallen into the lake so I may have gotten that part right.

Probably.

It’s times like these when I wonder why God entrusted me with these kids. I wonder if I can trust any of my gut feelings or if my gut just farted. I believe that the mark of God’s covenant with us is the devotion and kindness that we show one another. It’s numero uno on the list. So, did I correctly judge that man because he had the creep factor or was he in need of my kindness because he exuded the creep factor? How do I teach my kids to love their neighbor when I’m afraid of most of my neighbors?

18 Comments on “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps

  1. Pingback: Showing Up | Mended Musings

  2. A shirtless dude who injures a bird and holds it out for a kid to look at is creepy. Who knows what would have happened, but your first instinct was to protect your kids…and you did that. It sounds like a chaotic, scary scene for you as a parent. Kids never see things through the same filter as we do, but this sounds like a real-life lesson in why we tell them not to talk to or go to strangers. When they’re so little, they just don’t seem to get it otherwise.

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    • The more I think about it, the more I think I reacted right in this case. I’m also pretty sure I’ve done worse things to freak my kids out and will probably do more in the future! You’re right about their filters being different. Things tend to roll off their backs more than mine. 🙂

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  3. Life certainly takes on a new complexion when the wee ones are involved. Mama Bear instincts usually trump all reasoning – good and bad. So I wouldn’t fret too much. True that kids do learn how to react as we do at times, but not exclusively. Your boy seems quite charming, so I don’t see you sucking the life out of him because you felt he might have been in danger.

    You’re sober and present for them – that’s plenty to be grateful for 🙂

    Blessings,
    Paul

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  4. Funny thing happens when you have children, life becomes different. Had you have been on your own you may have seen that he was exercising and catching the bird may have not been odd. You know your children and had every right to be on alert when a stranger says come over here to your child and you watch them going. The world is a scary place and children have to learn they can’t trust anyone. Explaining that he should first ask mom before he follows the direction of someone other than mom or dad is acceptable to a five year old. I am sure in that few minutes you saw your son being scooped up by the strange man as your daughter fell in the lake because as a MOM we always see the worst happening. Taking them both out of the situation so you could catch your breathe is totally acceptable. Go with your instincts, there will come a time when you can justify your fear at a time when they will understand. Too bad the world cannot be as it was when everyone knew everyone and all looked out for each other. You teach them to be kind to their neighbors but alert to danger as evil is out there also.

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    • Yeah, I think what made it tougher is that I couldn’t give them both my undivided attention when they needed me and I just reacted. When all is said and done, reacting is better than doing nothing! Thanks for your comment Robin!

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      • Plus you are getting random weird stuff thrown at you with no time to process it. You rock. Your kids stayed safe, you did a great job and whether the calls you made were right or wrong and whether your words made sense (mine rarely do! If I could write my way through life, I would be much better off), your love and feelings came through loud and clear.

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        • Weird and random is a good way to describe it. I’d like to write my way through life sometimes too! Thank you for the encouragement!

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  5. I agree with the others – your first instinct, if you’re not a typically spooked person, is probably correct. I had a similar experience (surprise surprise) with Dorian and it left me feeling the exact same way. You’re not prone to being afraid of people so I’d say your gut was right. It could have been an innocent situation or not – with young children – better safe than sorry. BUt it’s hard to know about second guessing yourself.

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    • It is better safe than sorry, even if it hurts someone’s feelings. I don’t want to make my kids paranoid and I don’t want them to judge by appearances but I’m not sure how to teach them that. Maybe it’ll be easier when they’re a little older and I can talk more openly about what could happen.

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      • Unfortunately, I think that people realize that calling over a 5 year old to ‘look at something’ would be alarming to their parents. We want to teach our children to be open to others but we also have to realize that a lesson like that can come in smaller doses – right now, you are teaching them to be make safe decisions – to expect them to discern btwn a harmless weird adult and a harmful weird adult would be overwhelming. They have no idea that you were judging that man by appearances (I would guess) – at this point it is Mommy was weary because of a stranger. I should be weary too. Like you said, later on, when they are older you can talk about that kind of distinction.

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  6. In that situation, with the creepy guy, I think the practice of better-safe-than-sorry is the way to go. Sometimes there is a need to fight our first responses, go against our anxieties, but when it comes to those kinds of things I think being overprotective is okay. It sounds like you’re a great mom to me!! 🙂

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    • I tell myself that I’m cautious because I have kids and it’s true. But I wasn’t overly friendly to strangers before I had kids. I guess it’s about finding a balance that feels right. Thanks for the encouragement!

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