The other day I was talking to my friend, Lisette, and she said, “Do you want to hear something really creepy?”
“Of course!” I replied. Who wouldn’t say yes?
She went on to tell me about her experience at the local library with her kids. After a long morning of story hour and checking out books, they were leaving and her 4-year-old was fussing for a drink from the water fountain. My friend had her hands full with her baby and library books. She told Mabel she would have to wait until they got home since she couldn’t help her reach the water fountain. A middle-aged man was walking by just then and he stopped and offered to lift Mabel up to the water fountain to get a drink.
“How nice,” I said.
“Nice? Are you kidding me?” Lisette exclaimed. “More like creepy! Jen, that’s the creepy part of my story!”
“Of course it is! I told him, ‘Stay away from me and my daughter. I find your offer very creepy.'”
“Wow. You said that to him? What did he do that was so creepy?” I asked, thinking she must have left off the part of the story where he was wearing a hockey mask and carrying a machete.
“It’s creepy that he wanted to touch Mabel! He wanted to lift her up to the water fountain and feel her little body pressed against his.”
“Uhhh…I didn’t get that from the story at all. What did he say when you called him creepy?”
“He was very offended. He stepped back and apologized for scaring me. He said he was a father himself with small children and that he hoped that if his wife ever needed a hand someone would stop and help her too.”
“See? That’s nice. He’s a dad. He was just trying to be helpful.”
“Jen, don’t be naive. He’s creepy.”
This got me thinking about my kids and my Hubs. I know the Hubs would never offer to lift up anyone’s kid to a water fountain. Not because he’s afraid of being called “creepy,” but just because he barely wants to touch his own grubby kids let alone someone else’s kid. When Gomer was a baby, the Hubs would go with us to the park sometimes on a weekday. We work from home and our schedules are flexible, so he could take an hour and hang out with us at the park. Even though he said he could take the time, he was worried he was missing important business, so he would usually sit on a bench and check his email and watch Gomer and I play. After a couple of times of doing this, I realized the other moms at the park were freaked out by the Hubs. He’s Asian and I’m not. Because of this, most people don’t necessarily realize we go together so he looks like he’s sitting there alone staring at some strange baby. I finally had to tell the Hubs that he needed to push Gomer on the swing or at least talk to us and let the other moms know he was not a weirdo.
It’s sad that I had to have that conversation with the Hubs, although I must admit if I had been one of the other moms my “creep-dar” would have been going wild too. We’ve all become so paranoid.
It’s sad that every man who takes an interest in helping children is “creepy.” It’s sad that so many people automatically assume a man who wants to help has ulterior motives. Just the other day a grandfather was asked to leave a Barnes & Noble bookstore because he was shopping in the children’s section alone and it was deemed suspicious. Come on! This is ridiculous! Men are important role models in children’s lives and we shouldn’t be teaching kids to be afraid of all of them. We have to use some common sense. I want my son to grow up to be a man who offers to help anyone he sees (man, woman or child) who looks like they could use a hand without the fear of being labeled “creepy.” I want him to be able to shop for a child without people assuming he’s a pervert.
Maybe the guy at the library was a creep. I don’t know. Maybe he was just a man trying to be nice to a lady who looked like she had her hands full. It’s so rare that I get an offer for help from anyone, so I am always happy to take the help. As long as the guy doesn’t look like an ax murderer I’d accept his help to get my kid a drink of water. I wouldn’t send him into the bathroom alone with Gomer and ask him to wipe his butt for him, but a drink of water seems OK to me.
What do you think? Am I too naive?
Be sure to read my daily rants at People I Want to Punch in the Throat where you’re sure to laugh and/or might be offended (it’s where you can find my R-rated rants).
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