The Many Adventures of Keira!

This is our page to document our family's adoption journey- starting from when we first started planning for our little one, to when we brought her home. We're also going to keep this updated with all of the things that Keira has been up to since she's been home with us here in the U.S!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Paranoia or Instinct?

Most of the Westfield shopping malls have these wonderful Playtown areas that are great for children. It's an area that is usually at the end of one of their malls and is a cushioned playground for smaller children. There are fun things for kids to play and climb on and everything is cushioned so that they won't hurt themselves if they fall or bump into something. The area is also surrounded by benches for the parents to sit on and watch their children play. Dan and I love to take Keira here sometimes to let her run and play safely sometimes after dinner. It's specifically for smaller children, so she also gets to socialize with little ones that are about her age. Whenever I take her there, I play with her or am sitting on the bench keeping an eye on her. I make it a point to NEVER talk on the phone while there and when I'm talking to other parents, neither of us think that we're being rude if we're talking to each other, but not looking at each other. We usually understand that we're all watching our children. Because there are so many people there watching their children, you sometimes get a false sense of security and let your guard down.

Am I paranoid? Perhaps...I guess that it would be dependant on who you are and your previous experiences. As children ourselves, it seemed that there wasn't really much to worry about in regard to predators and we ran around all the time exploring without our parents right there with us. I honestly don't know whether it just wasn't as much of a problem back then---or if ignorance is bliss and we just weren't aware of it although it was all around us. Either way, I'm fine with being paranoid and being perhaps overly careful if it keeps my child safe.

Last night, Dan and I brought Keira to the mall to run and play. There were lots of children playing that were about her age if not maybe a little older with all of the parents sitting on the benches talking with one father even laying across the bench taking a quick nap while his daughter played. While we were standing by the wall watching her roll around on the ground and playing, something didn't feel right. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a man standing by the cushioned wall (with the short wall in front of him) looking very odd. He looked like he was in his later 40's, wavy gray/brown hair with his hands in his pocket. He was standing there watching the children playing. Something was really odd about the way that he was looking at them. It's hard to explain. It didn't look like how an adult looks at a child remarking at how cute and adorable they are---it looked more like the sleazy guy that sits in the back of a bar oogling at women in short skirts. It felt VERY wrong. I nudged Dan and tried to discreetly point the guy out to him. Dan and I were both watching him now and now I noticed that he was not only standing there with his hands in his pocket with a leering look on his face almost looking like he was rubbing himself against the cushioned wall in front of him. I looked to see what he was looking at...and guess what it was? It was Keira. Somehow either he had gotten her attention or for whatever reason it was, she was sitting on the ground looking at him. He was making eye contact with her and licked his lips. I rushed over to Keira and picked her up to take her away and before I could even think to say anything, Dan said something... "Hey...are any of these kids yours?" The guy looked startled. Almost like Dan broke him from a trance. He stumbled over his words and Dan point blank said to him, " You're lookin' a little WEIRD over there, dude." Other parents could hear now and hopefully figured out that something was weird. This seemed to shake him and he started walking away into the Sears that was nearby. We could still see him from the playarea still lingering by the doorway of the store--partially hiding himself, yet still looking at the playarea and at the children with his hands in his pockets. We decided to go ahead and leave since it was very uncomfortable now. As we were leaving, I looked over at the parents at the playarea. Some were on cell phones, some were talking to each other and that one father was still laying on the bench sleeping. We stopped by the security office to tell them about the guy. Dan made sure to say, "Hey...maybe he's totally innocent and is harmless, and they say not to judge a book by it's cover...well, I'm going to judge anyway just to play it safe". The security guy said that he would send out a notice to the other security people to keep an eye out for the guy just in case.

Were we being paranoid? Probably... it's very possible. I think there is a fine line between paranoia and instinct sometimes, however, I don't think it's a bad thing to lean on the side of instinct and play things safe.


Paula said...

Sharon, Count me in as paranoid as well. I'd always rather be safe than sorry. There are just too many weirdos out there.

Terri said...

I would have done the same thing. Admittedly, I'm rather over protective of my girls, but yeah, that seems a bit beyond weird.