Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How to Save Your Child

I was driving to Target with my daughters yesterday to buy gifts before heading to my co-worker's son's birthday party. As we stopped on the red light, I noticed this man driving in the car next to mine, probably in his late 30's looking at my car. I looked again and I saw him looking at my daughter Ju Ju. I didn't think too much at first, then the light turned green. I started driving again and he, too, started driving. I looked at him again, he's still looking at Ju Ju while he's driving (ok, that's dangerous!) Then we stopped again for another red light. I looked again, now he looked back and looking at her again. I looked the back seat and saw my daughter resting her both hands by the window and looking outside, midning her own business. She didn't know the guy was looking at her.

Now as a mother I thought about two things:

1. This guy simply thinks my daughter is adorable.
2. This guy is creepy and must be a pedophile

Okay girls, I don't deny that I often get stopped by strangers at a supermarket or a restaurant or a boutique and being told how cute my daughters are. Even past weekend, while we're waiting our turn at the deli for cold cuts, this gentleman before me told me, "I just want to say that your daughters are adorable.." - I was flattered and thanked him. And there's nothing wrong with it.

What tremendously bothered me about this guy in the car was, he never once acknowledged me. We stopped side by side at the red lights twice. He never even once looked at me and smiled or nodded; the gestures that I would consider him being polite and telling me that he knew I was her mother. As I was approaching another traffic light to make left turn onto Target, the guy slowly, but surely changing lanes towards the opposite lane to make right turn.

I was watching at my daughter through the rear view mirror when she finally noticed the guy looking at her. She waved him and I immediately looked at the man. He smiled and waved her and disappeared as he made right turn onto the opposite street. Ju Ju said, "Mama, the guy was smiling at me, so I waved..." My heart was racing fast....It was my gut feeling. Something was terribly wrong. I could feel it.

No, he didn't follow us. And yes, it could be totally innocent thing where he honestly thought she was cute and wondered what my daughter was thjnking as she looked outside of the car window. But really, if I was he, I would look at her mom and at least smile.

So that night, I talked to my husband who's in NJ about what happened. He was really, really bothered by my story because he couldn't do anything about it. He was also frustrated with my action where I didn't do anything to control the situation. He told me I should have honked at the guy when I felt something was wrong and letting him know that I knew he was looking at our daughter. JT told me I am the only one who can save our daughters from any harm while he's away and he is right.

I don't want to be cynical, but we're living in the time where we can't trust strangers. It's really sad, but true. Strangers do great things to help other people in need, but there are also crazy sick people who want to hurt children. So, I have to protect my daughters from anyone who wants to hurt them and I feel like I didn't do a good job of doing that. I truly hope the guy was not some sick man who loves little kid. That thought only makes me wanna vomit.

So, what would you do if you were me?


Babs said...

First time I read your blog, and wow what I post... Don't have a clue what I would have done. But my heart is racing just reading about it. I live in Jordan, where it is normal for people to lean down and just kiss your baby/kid, or others to ask if they can carry them! Must admit I don't really like it. but yes you are right we are the only ones who are taking care of our children and who can save them...

eri said...

omigoodness! i have no idea what i would've done. probably exactly what you did. just kept tabs but not really anything else. never underestimate a woman's intuition.

it's so scary and sad to think that the world isn't like it was when we were growing up where playing w/schoolmates and sleepovers were the people are so protective (and rightfully so) that i know a lot of parents that don't allow their child to sleepover friends houses or even go on play-dates unless they fully know the other child's parents.

my sister is lucky that all her friends had kids roughly at the same time so my nephew has so many kids to play with. i hope i'm that lucky.

you're doing a great job maki :)

Rhianne said...

what a terrible situation for you - I probably would have done the same as you - you were wary and in control and if he was ignoring you anyway sounding your horn probably wouldn't have made any difference. I'm sorry you had to go through this :(

emilia. said...

Wow, that is so weird. I am really sorry. How old is your little girl? I mean as long as the guy didn't follow you for a long amount of time to try to look at your daughter some more or to try to follow you to see where y'all were headed, I wouldn't think anymore about it. To dwell on it will only make you feel worse. I'm sure he really meant no harm. Maybe this man had lost his little girl at a young age and now every time he sees a girl who kinda looks like his, he just stares because he's hurting. Or maybe he is longing for a little one of his own, but his wife is unable to have children. See what I mean? There can be a MILLION reasons, so I would jump to the worst one possible. If he were ever to come closer and talk to her, that would be wrong, but what he did seems pretty okay. (I know I wasn't there, but just based on your story.)
Your blog is super adorable! LOVE it! I will so be back. :)
Xoxo, Emily @

Nicole Marie said...

thats so creepy. yeah honking probably would have been good. its so sad we live in a world that that is our first thought.

Jasara said...

First I dont think you were wrong for your actions, if he proceeded to follow you or ended up in the same area as you, then I'd have to take some form of action but I've experienced the same with my boys and you just have to be observant. Yes you could have done several thigns, circled the block, got his attention by honking, got behind him... but maybe you had never been in this situation and so next time you know... You will have a plan.
Also teach your daughter that even the nicest of people can be not so nice and to always be wary of anyone. I am pretty open with my boys and have talked to them about the dangers and the stories on the news they have heard like Sandra Cantu... who was abducted and killed by her female neighbor who was a sunday school teacher here in Tracy, CA.
Its hard raising kids in these times and we fear so much for our children but we all also learn as we go along and knowing what we have to protect them from already gives us a head start on our actions but the rest comes through time.
Your guard was up, is up and will remain up :)

Crystal Escobar said...

That is crazy, I would have been worried about it as well, and my husband sounds just like yours. He is SO protective of our kids and hates when he's away because he feels like we're in danger without him :)
I'm sure you made sure there was no way he turned around and began following you again. That's all I can say about it.
You're right though, we need to be so cautious because there are some sick people out there.
Anyway, I'm glad you visited my blog, because I LOVE your blog and all your little creations. YOu're so talented.
I'm following you now.

Unknown Mami said...

You can not second guess your judgment.

Of course when you tell your husband the situation, he is going to be upset because it is creepy, but he wasn't there and he is not you. You do protect your daughters. If you felt your daughter was in immediate danger, I'm sure you would have done something. But I'm not sure I would have honked at the guy. Maybe if it was another woman, but it's just not the same to deal with situations when you are a woman as it is when you are a man. I don't like to antagonize people on the street because I do not know how they will react.

I am sure that if your daughter was in a situation that called for you to protect to be a lion that you would absolutely rise to the occasion.

bananas. said...

i got creeped out just reading about this guy.

i probably would've done the same thing as you. honking is a little excessive. but then that's coming from the father of a little girl. he's bound to be more agressive in a situation like this.

Dorkys Ramos said...

Aack, just reading this gave me the heebie jeebies. Let's hope he meant no harm and at the same time maybe teach your daughters not to respond to strangers. It's hard though because you don't want to make them paranoid and frighten them. Either way I'm sure you'd totally kick some creepster butt if you had to though!

Jessica (Bayjb) said...

Oh my gosh that's creepy! I mean, that's really really creepy. I would have also been really worried and feared the same thing. It's not irrational, you just never know anymore.

Maki said...

Girlies: Thanks so much for all of your comments and input - I'm glad I got to hear your perspectives on things. Let's cross our fingers all of our kids stay safe and protected:)

Dorkys: Actually JT told me to tell my girls not to wave at strangers which sometimes I feel it's okay to do it depends on the situation. Oh so difficult!

photojoy said...

I was once in a similar situation . A wife of my host family in the US once drove me to the meeting downtown, she was taking her little daughter of 8 or so in the rear seat. She was watching outside through a window. Then the driver next to our car noticed her daughter and never left his eyes on her. You know women are very sensitive about these kinds of situations. Her mother told her daughter to sit away from the window and just sit straight in the rear seat. That was a weard experience for me too.
"Ki wo tsuketene!"

Katy said...

That is definitely creepy -- I think (having no children and only having a little babysitting experience) that trusting your gut is the way to go. Better to be overly cautious (make sure he wasn't following) than to be in a worse situation later.

Maki said...

photojoy: I'm very trusting and hate being so cautious and nervous. I'm sure your experience was awkward too! "kiwotsukema--su!" :)

Katy: Thank you so much! xoxo

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