A dog is a pedophile’s best prop. That sweet old man with the cute puppy at the park might be taking mental Polaroids of your little one. When my daughter was a baby, I would never change her diaper at the park. Now that she’s a preschooler, I would never slip her out of a dirty or wet shirt or shorts, no matter how sly I think I’m being. I’m SUPER paranoid of pedophiles.
I don’t have a minivan or an SUV, so I can’t change her in the car. I either go into the public restroom or carry a bunch of towels in the trunk to cover her car seat. If she has ballet after the park or school and I have no time to go home and let her change, then she’s just going to school in her leotard, tutu and tights.
The thought of ballet brings me to a recent incident at my daughter’s dance school. Most moms just do the drop-off and go grocery shopping, get a pedicure, get a lube job (Jiffy Lube, of course) or whatever else they can accomplish in 45 minutes. Other than at preschool or with her grandparents, I haven’t been able to cut the cord enough to leave my daughter with strangers.
Maybe I’m not too paranoid, after all. I’m usually the only parent that waits silently with my iPad during Babyface’s ballet class. Well, I was playing Scrabble when the teacher came running down the hall with two three-year-olds. The first one said she could go by herself and stepped into the individual bathroom. The teacher waited until she came out, but kept mentioning that she needed to get back to the class because the rest of the kids were waiting by themselves. This is where she asked me the uncomfortable question, “do you mind taking her (the second girl into the bathroom) because she doesn’t know how to go by herself?”
Huh? How do you know I’m not a pedophile? I’m not, but it’s not obvious. It’s not like pedophiles don’t come in all shapes and sizes. Just because I’m a student’s mother or a woman, it doesn’t mean that I’m automatically safe.
Luckily, I had met the child’s mother (but the teacher didn’t know that). I did take her in and was grateful that it was me and not some other random, possibly sketchy person. I told her mother afterward and she thanked me. I’m not sure if she carried the same paranoia. She just seemed thankful that I took her daughter, since she wasn’t there.
I am NOT ok with this. If I had left (and, I won’t until she can go completely by herself without taking any detours or forgetting to wash her hands) and the teacher pawned her pee-pee run off to another mommy, I would have been livid about it. I’m leaving my child in YOUR care, not some random mothers. Maybe they should hire a potty-taking (not talking) intern and do a background check.
An old man sitting on a park bench in 60-degree weather with his shirt off can be completely innocent or a mommy with two kids and a constant, complacent grin can be a pedophile. Unless we’re friends and I trust you or you’re at a school with a required background check, you have no business being alone with my child or watching her in the park.