Readers — It’s great to be neighborly and share info. It’s less great when little blips turn into fears turn into anger turn into the quote in the headline, which comes to us from this Facebook exchange, sent in by a reader named Adam Parson (who deleted all the other last names). – L
Cathy:Â Just an FYI, there was a silver/gray mid size car sitting at the bus stop this morning, car running and headlights on. When I got to the stop with my child, the car slowly pulled up, drove around the cup-de-sac, and left. I couldn’t see much because the windows were foggy but there was a guy driving and it didn’t appear there was anyone else in the car. My initial thought was it was someone leaving flyers or something but he didn’t stop at the mailboxes or get out of the car. My neighbor across the streetÂ confirmed that he had been just sitting there for a while. Got the feeling he definitely wasn’t here for anyone on this street and it made us uncomfortable. Please watch your children at the bus stops in the morning. Especially now when it is so dark.
- Jill:Â Creepy…
- Bryan:Â Corner him and confront him next time
- Joyce:Â Good to know. We will be watchful.
- Erica:Â Try to get the license plate next time and let the Sheriff’s office know.
- Adam A. Parson:Â Devil’s Advocate: What if the dude was just lost and looking up directions? Or maybe using the phone instead of doing it while driving? I’ve done that myself and I would be a little grumpy if I had everyone thinking I was a creeper or even calling the sheriff on me.
- Joelle:Â Good observation, much better to be safe than sorry especially when it comes to our kids!! Way to look out for everyone!!
- Cathy:Â When it comes to the safety of our children and a possible threat to them, I would rather error on the side of caution than give the benefit of the doubt. And if it were me, I would completely understand that people were being cautious because of the children. It takes one second for something disastrous to happen. Better to be safe than sorry.
- Adam A. Parson:Â To each their own. I’m just trying not to perpetuate the culture of fear which has already gotten so bad that we look suspiciously upon any stranger – especially when its a man.
- Cathy:Â Let me ask, do you have children?
- Bryan:Â Â The market for “Not a Rapist” bumper stickers should be ripe for the picking then.
- Cathy:Â Â Nice. Obviously you either don’t have kids or you live in a fantasy world. If you do have kids, I hope they survive your lack of parental concern.
- Adam A. Parson:Â Yes, I have two boys ages 11 and 13
- Adam A. Parson:Â I don’t have a lack of parental concern, nor live in a fantasy world, just one that doesn’t involve living in constant fear. I’m really not trying to get into an argument about who is a better or worse parent, just trying to state that a guy in car does not a kidnapper make.
- Cathy:Â Adam, my second response was directed to the comment regarding rapists bumper stickers. Though I am concerned at your lack of concern. No, I do not know why the guy was there. I did not call the sheriff. I did however take the responsibility to alert the rest of the parents out here because it did make me as well as my neighbor very nervous. The majority of us out here take this seriously and do want a heads up so we can keep an extra eye out. I’m not handing the guy a guilty sentence. I’m exercising caution in an out of the normal situation. No matter how you paint it, a guy sitting in a running car at a bus stop on a small dead end street in the dark at the ungodly hour that the bus comes is a tad suspicious. I, as a parent, would expect that other parents who feel something may be suspicious post it here so I can be aware. The point of this page is for us all to communicate with each other. That includes communicating points of concern. And I fully believe this was a point of concern. Again, when it comes to the kids, it’s better to be over cautious than to let something happen that could have been prevented just by keeping an eye out. You don’t have to go running up to the car yelling and accusing. Just keep an eye out. Isn’t the safety of the kids worth being a little extra aware of the situation???
- Joelle:Â ^Well said and I agree completely^
- Adam A. Parson:Â Well I’m concerned that you’re concerned about my perceived lack of concern. Again, I’m not trying to fight. I was just giving a counter point. So, to therefore pass judgment on me is ridiculous. They’re your kids, do what you want. Some parents will agree with you, some will agree with me. C’est la vie.Â
Statistically speaking, the kids are fine and will never be the victim of a crime. People are no more or less ‘crazy’ now then when we were kids – no matter what the news and our parents would have us believe.Â
And, that’s all I have to say about that.
- Jimmy:Â I appreciate the head’s up. While I don’t want to jump to conclusions and convict an innocent person, I am glad to live in a neighborhood where people alert one another to suspicious activity – especially when it pertains to our children.
- Jackie:Â Thank youÂ CathyÂ for the info! As a college graduate with a bachelors degree in criminal justice, a past police/fire dispatcher, and more importantly…A PARENT of an adorable, friendly, independent, and very adventurous little boy I am constantly “prejudging” and “overreacting”. I get suspicious of the weekly scavengers! I am uncomfortable with the amount of traffic on a cul de sac! Sure, it’s quite possible that they’re out for a drive just checking out the lots for sale, admiring my neighbors fountain, or even lost…However, it is also possible that they are scoping out our children!! My son is only 4, and I have pretty much put the fear of God in him about strangers! It’s a constant conversation (especially lately) that is not at all sugar coated! He knows that there are very bad people that can take him and hurt him. I’ve told him that he would never see us again, and reminded him that there’s not a thing in the world that a stranger offers him (candy, puppy, bike, etc) that we can’t give him. I also told him that “crazy people” have Spiderman webs and even if you just walk up to their car, they can spin a web and get you! Over dramatic? Maybe… but I would rather scare my child than put flyers up with his picture on it!Â let me also remind you that there is a substantial amount of crime that doesn’t make it to the 6 o’clock news…
- Lisa:Â I think it’s great that we have so many people in the neighborhood that look out for one another! It’s in places sometimes that u least expect but bad things do happen and it’s better to be safe then sorry. My kids are my life so if something is out of the norm it’s nice to know we can all count on each other to keep us informed. Thank you!
- Adam A. Parson:Â Again, we’re kind of missing the boat, there was nothing inherently suspicious, creepy or dangerous about what this poor soul was doing. I’d be willing to bet that he pulled away because he saw parents and kids and didn’t want to be accused of theÂ veryÂ thing that he has been accused of.
I know I’m not changing minds here, but I’ll keep on fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger.
Lenore here: Â I’d love to see this whole exchange studied in some anthropology course. It’s such a pristine example of the sanctimony, self-righteousness and suspicion that are one of the hallmarks of early 21st century America. Thanks, Adam, for documenting this chat — and wading in!
Wow. Poor Adam A. Parson. It’s not easy being the lone voice of reason in a sea of hysteria.
The title of this post: â€œI would rather scare my child than put flyers up with his picture on it!â€ is an example of a very bad argument. It’s a false dichotomy. You make it seem like there are just two options, when in fact there are not. Not scaring your child will not automatically lead you to putting up missing kid poster with his face.
I also told him that â€œcrazy peopleâ€ have Spiderman webs and even if you just walk up to their car, they can spin a web and get you!
I wish this woman could hear herself and realize that she could be one of those Spiderman web spinners herself.
We have passed the point where we condemn people for what they are thinking. Now we condemn people because of what we imagine about them.
Wow. Jackie’s response just completely blew my mind. “Crazy people” can spin Spiderman webs? I just felt a circuit in my brain pop. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out that her kid grows up to be agoraphobic. Nor would I be surprised to find that she can spin Spiderman webs…
IQ, sadly, dips precipitously when we are stressed or anxious. And we make everyone stupider when we spread fear. This has profound consequences for democracy, which few people seem to want to talk about.
And instead we live in a world where you can get shot for knocking on someone’s door when your car breaks down. I can’t help but think that these things are sadly related.
If I can be felicitous.
The man in the car was doing a valued public service. He was providing a much needed fear factor for people who have no other purpose in life beside becoming excited at one panic after another.
Whoever “the only thing to fear is fear itself” may have been saying more than he realised.
Wow! God forbid a person park on a public Street! Won’t someone protect the chiiiiiiiiiildreeeeeeeennnnnn?!
I just…I can’t anymore.
Imagine if we lived in a country where we were not frightened of each other. Where there is not the panics related to “helicopter parents. Where we were absent crime and punishment hysterias. Where there was not an imagined “rape culture” paralyzing women everywhere. Ditto the “war on drugs” and the “war on terror”.
What would happen? We may have a much more effective democracy. What could happen if those frightened of each other start caucusing with each other on issues conveniently morbid bound. Shock jocks may not have jobs. Hate merchants may have no buyers. I have to wonder if the endless precessions of panics which passes for public discourse is entirely accidental and beneficial to ulterior agendas or designed and beneficial to ulterior agendas. WOuld it be possible for the NSA to ears drop on all when all is not engaged in a war of all against all?
So many things it could have been…
Bad GPS directions that say that dead end road is a through road.
Talking on the hand held phone – that is illegal to do while driving and in fact safer for the kids to NOT be driving.
Looking at directions printed that are bad – and having to call someone with a computer to figure out where to go.
It could have been the new newspaper delivery guy trying to figure out where the stops are.
It could be the substitute bus driver…again trying to figure out where the stops are.
And unfortunately, just someone lost on their first day of work – maybe someone doing home health care for elderly or really sick.
Gee I just came up with 6 good reasons and everyone jumps to the one bad one…
Wouldn’t it be funny if the man in the car was just a parent or grandparent watching out for his kid until there was a group to hang with?
I don’t mind being informed of stuff. The thing that would set me off is the “call the cops” or “confront and accuse and scare the b@$tard off!”
Well, and that crazy lady’s tale of how she’s scaring her 4yo. Isn’t emotional abuse illegal? Somebody call CPS on that woman!
Coincidentally, my kid was telling me this morning of a nightmare she had last night. It was about a fire at her school with a gunman present. Probably related to the fact that they are studying fire safety in school – and the neverending focus on “what if someone with a gun came in.” I’m happy to report that the dream ended with all of us (me and my kids) finding each other and being safe in the end. 🙂 Now I hope my kid got enough good sleep to perform well on the 4 tests she has today. :/
Oh, and a week ago I was chatting with my sister and daughters about the outdoorsy stuff they had yet to learn. I mentioned that I would be putting them in a gun safety class as soon as they were old enough. One of them said, “you mean someone is going to try to shoot us!!?” Now, I never talk that way, and we don’t watch TV or violent movies, so you know where that is coming from. :/
Isn’t this kind of the scenario that apparently got Travon Martin killed?
If this driver had a pattern of hanging around a children’s bus stop, it is cause (maybe)for concern, but really, only seen once and drove off? Come on. That is neither a crime, nor even remotely threatening. Who teaches parents to be that paranoid?
Travon Martin wasn’t driving around on a road; he was walking into peoples’ yards (and reportedly peering into windows, but that’s a lot more subjective). Contrary to one of the popular narratives about that case he also wasn’t a choirboy. He probably wasn’t the Young Thug that the OTHER narrative paints him, but like a lot of young idiots he took some trouble to look like one, and cultivated that attitude. Furthermore the neighborhood had, recently, suffered a series of break-ins, so there was a certain amount of reason to be looking on the dark side.
I think there’s at least an order of magnitude difference in the level of reasonable suspicion. People get lost. When lost they wander around on the roads and the sidewalks. They don’t wander into yards and buildings, unless they are teenaged fools (like me at that age) and up to no good (which I certainly was, though I wasn’t a molester or a burglar).
I jumped on this because the Martin case is being made an example of a lot of things that it had little or nothing to do with. Martin was at best a teenaged fool with an attitude problem. The case did not involve “Stand Your Ground”; it was not invoked by the defense, and any references to it by the prosecution were beside the point. Travon Martin’s death may have been an avoidable tragic death of a teen who thought he was immortal (as they all do, I certainly did) and didn’t know when to back off, or it may have been totally justifiable pesticide.
Jackie and her irk are spinning, jumping and running: spinning BS, jumping to conclusions and running down the worst case scenario list….idiots….
“I also told him that â€œcrazy peopleâ€ have Spiderman webs and even if you just walk up to their car, they can spin a web and get you!”
Why is it that when it comes to stuff like this, not lying to your kids and giving them proper information, which are supposed to be cardinal, sacred rules or parenting, goes right out the window?
I still get appalled that I occasionally hear the “If you don’t behave I’m going to call that man (referring to store employee or other patron) over here to make you stop” line. I really thought that kind of thing went out with the 70’s. Now I find people are doing an updated version of it. Lovely.
It’s people like “Cathy” who make raising kids in a normal way utter hell anymore. The other day I had the temerity to drive 20 in a 25 while driving by the local bus stop (my kids don’t go to the local school) and one busybody -probably named Cathy- motioned for me to slow down. I’m already doing 5 under, both hands gipping the wheel, so I don’t hit anyone like the supervised kids who are still allowed to run in the street. I pulled over and explained how slowly I was going and asked what an ‘acceptable’ speed limit was in her mind. She don’t have an answer.
“A life lived in fear is a life half lived,” is the quote from “Strictly Ballroom.”
Guess we’ve got lots of folks living half a life here.
Ha, Ali, I had a similar thing happen to me once! I was driving through a neighborhood to get to my kidâ€™s school and I was on a street with a 25mph speed limit. It is well known that speeding is a problem on this street, and a woman who was a mother of one of my kidsâ€™ classmates lived in that neighborhood and was on some sort of committee to get people to slow down on that road.
So Iâ€™m on this road and I come up behind a car that is turning and is completely stopped. I stopped behind it and when it turned, I accelerated. I had an old clunker of a car and during normal acceleration, it made a loud revving sound. So as I was accelerating, as I got to about 15mph, this woman was crossing the street and I kid you not, she shook her fist at me and yelled, â€œSLOW DOWN!!!â€
I didnâ€™t stop, but that evening when I ran into her at a school function, I told her, â€œYou know, that person you yelled at to slow down this morning was me. I was going 15, accelerating from a dead stop. How slow do you think I should have been going in a 25mph zone?â€
She just looked at me, said â€œUhmâ€¦â€ and then went to talk to someone else. The best thing about people like that is they donâ€™t expect to be confronted, so they usually have zero rebuttal when you confront them.
Wow–I did that just yesterday. My sister had called me earlier to let me know our Mom had gone into the hospital unexpectedly. I heard my text message alert go off, saw that it was my sister, so pulled out of traffic and onto a side street so I could read it. Spent about five minutes parked there on a residential street texting back and forth before resuming my trip. Maybe I’m now the subject of some neighborhood email exchange about a creepy lady in a red Corolla casing the neighborhood??
Reading this a couple times, I think Cathy & Adam Parson are not too far apart.
Cathy says, “Heads up–probably nothing but there was an odd car.”
Other people pile on and go “CREEPER!!!!!! OHH NOEZ!!!!”
Adam Parson says, “Slow your roll folks, no reason to assume he’s evil.”
Cathy says, “Yup. Just giving a heads up.”
Jackie says, “I’m an insane overprotective mother who lies to my child!”
As far as parental stuff goes, the initial heads up is fine, IMO. There was something out of the ordinary. Probably nothing. But if it happens multiple times, it’s worthy of noting when the pattern started.
If it never happens again (which is most likely), it gets forgotten.
It’s the handful of “Corner the spiderweb-casting creep and demand answers” who need to be reined in. And I think that’s where Adam Parson was (or ought to have been) directing his comments.
I will add this, as well. According to my ex, I’ve been putting “crazy” ideas into my daughter’s head, and “indoctrinating” her. The ideas? That labelling people limits our ability to see their humanity, so I avoid using labels like “evil” and “bully.” She went to her dad and said, “There’s no such thing as evil!’ and my ex said, “Well, I know a case where a man killed people and made lampshades and furniture out of their skin. You go ahead and tell me that’s not evil.” She’s nine years old. Does this make her safer, I wonder?
When my ex spoke to me about it, I heard the angry hiss of, “She’s really been brainwashed. She thinks she can just go up to anyone on the street and hug them, because there’s no such thing as evil.” Of course, this is not what she said, or what she is doing. Never mind all of the “indoctrinating” I’ve done about trust your gut, run away if you sense someone means you harm, don’t be polite, be self-preserving, and never get into a car with someone you don’t know.
But apparently, I just wasn’t scaring her enough. In fact, my radical ideas about seeing the humanity of all people, even of those who do things that are abhorrent to us, is putting my child in direct danger. God forbid she cultivate a sense of compassion and empathy in her soul. Too dangerous.
Meanwhile, this same person “indoctrinated” my son to fear the world so that even at age 10, as a strapping and savvy young man, he was terrified of being “kidnapped” by “bad people” and wouldn’t ride the public bus on his own in our sleepy, bucolic town.
So. What makes a child safer? I can tell you what makes a child more likely to have anxiety, what makes a child less likely to trust themselves, what makes a child much less likely to come to a parent with things that might be a bit scary for them, like the goings on in their relationships and the experimenting they might do.
I know my daughter will come to me with what is going on in her life, because she trusts me to be honest, calm and non-reactive, whatever she says. This might be the most important thing I can do to promote safety for her.
I find it utterly tragic when parents lie, or distort reality, or get reactive with their kids to promote “safety.”
Good Responses Adam…Bravo.
Anti-paranoia begins at home…For all of us who find ourselves in a situations like this– ask the person in question if s/he is ok, for goodness sake! A) you can possibly help someone who is in distress B) You get better data to communicate to the authorities if the situation is truly ‘hinky’ and C) I would much rather model ‘concern for others’ and ‘situationally appropriate responses’ than ‘uneducated, irrational fear of things I know nothing about’ for my daughter.
When I was done reading this, I immediately wanted to look up “Adam A Parson” on FB and tell to keep up the good work! This is one mom and one family that DOES agree with him! Keep speaking true and reason!
This is so typical in the social media world now, grouping up to attack one person and fly their high and mighty flags.
It’s really disappointing. Good for Adam for holding his ground, even if it was amongst deaf and ignorant ears.
I’ve noticed recently how much our jobs impact the way we see the world. The mom in the Facebook exchange who was a police/fire dispatcher heard about every crime that happened and her job was to hear about crime all the time, and as a consequence she thinks that crime is everywhere, all the time, rather than thinking about the huge number of people she never heard from and never had to dispatch police to because they were not involved in crime, either as perpetrator or victim. The people we tend to encounter the most in our lives shape the way we think the world is. Our jobs often don’t put us in contact with a random sample of people, but rather a highly-selected group (if you work in a spinal injury clinic, nearly everyone you see has a spinal injury, which might make you worry a lot about spinal injury because you begin to think it’s much more common than it is because you see it all the time). It’s something to be aware of, and worthwhile to try to step out of what seems like an obvious worldview to see if it’s really accurate.
kudos to Adam! my son is 13 now and i still get told what a horrible parent i am for letting him go places on his bike that are miles away (we live rural, but the library is only a mile away). he loves science & spends a lot of time hanging out in the marshes (unsupervised, OMG!) studying turtles, newts & snakes. he’s been doing so since he was 7…
and i’m 59. i remember when i was 4, a guy in a van trying to get me & the 3 year old kid next door to “go help him find his puppy”. i grabbed the friend & ran to her back yard to tell her mom. it’s nothing new, and it’s nothing a smart kid can’t handle, IF they’ve been given good information & allowed to trust themselves about how they feel about certain adults (too many kids are taught that all adults must be obeyed. that’s a problem, not stranger danger)
I just had a very similar conversation at a home party a week ago… I, being the free-range’er of the group, was trying to get a reason why these other 2 ladies were so paralyzed with supposed fear and all they could come up with was “it’s a different world than what we grew up in”. Yes, statistically it is – safer, more technologically advanced and most kids have instant access to their cell phones to call for help. Augh! I had to walk away in the interest of NOT making my host uncomfortable, but I now know better than to put myself in that situation again!
Almost the exact same exchange happened on our neighborhood list minus the thoughtful counterpoint presented by Adam. They were accusing the man in the vehicle to not have pants on. I’m thought if you are a block away, how can you tell that he doesn’t have pants on? It sounds like a workman coming to our fancy neighborhood and also might have gotten lost.
Telling either of my sons that a stranger can shoot Spider Man webs would be a sure way to get him _into_ their car! It’s his life dream right now to be Spider Man!
Why couldn’t she just wave “hi” and see what his response was? I’m glad there are normal people like Adam around.
My SIL lives in fear of absolutely everything. Why? Because her mother is scared of absolutely everything, and passed those fears to her.
It’s difficult for a adult to function AS an adult if they are constantly scared, suspicious, and unhappy. And the ARE unhappy. My SIL is down-right miserable with her life.
And she makes her kids miserable, too.
Wow, Jackie’s response is just creepy. I feel for her kids who are obviously being mentally abused by Jackie. Hate to see how they are going to turn out when they are adult.
I’m much more bothered by parents who lie to their kids and intentionally terrify them to get the behavior they want (whether it’s stay away from strangers, or behave so the boogeyman won’t get you). My kids have a relative who pulls that crap, and it absolutely infuriates me, especially because she doesn’t keep it to just her own kids. Telling a little child that “bad strangers” have Spiderman webs, and can get you if you even come too close, is just plain cruel. What happens when the poor kid has to walk through a crowd, or sit near strangers in a public setting?
I’ve also had it with the “speeding” busybodies. I don’t speed, especially in neighborhoods. But I have a neighbor who is completely crazy and always accusing my husband and me of driving too fast. I was driving home one day when this neighbor suddenly stepped into the street from between his car and his boat and right in front of my car, forcing me to swerve around him. (I learned in kindergarten not to step into the street from behind a vehicle, but apparently he didn’t.) Then he started screaming at me that I should not be driving more than 15mph – even though the speed limit is 30.
“The mom in the Facebook exchange who was a police/fire dispatcher heard about every crime that happened and her job was to hear about crime all the time, and as a consequence she thinks that crime is everywhere, all the time, rather than thinking about the huge number of people she never heard from and never had to dispatch police to because they were not involved in crime, either as perpetrator or victim.”
I would disagree with this. If anything, while I now worry about weird head injuries, my job as a public defender dealing with crimes day in and day out has made me FAR LESS worried. Why? Because I know the real story behind the scary crime statistics. 99.9% of our violent crime cases involve people who know each other or robberies of businesses. Stranger-on-stranger violent crime is exceedingly rare in all forms.
It is hard to see our country’s murder rate or see statistics estimating that 1 in 6 girls will be sexually assaulted before age 18 or hear about thousands of missing kids but know none of the facts behind any of it and not worry that the world is going to hell. Especially when we only hear at length about the more titillating stranger crimes because nobody truly cares if one drug dealer kills another.
I expect much better from people involved in the criminal justice system who should KNOW that they are not investigating, prosecuting, defending or judging stranger-on-stranger crimes on a regular basis. THESE people are far more deluded about the safety of children outside the home than the average citizen.
“Isnâ€™t this kind of the scenario that apparently got Travon Martin killed?”
No, he was a crook walking around a gated community not his own looking for victims.
When confronted by a security guard instead of trying to come up with a valid argument or just leaving where he wasn’t supposed to be he assaulted the man who, severely wounded, drew a gun in self defense.
Martin was a convicted felon with a mile long arrest record. You’re here assuming anyone sitting alone in a parked car, doing nothing, is the same as that.
I’m reminded of a moment with my sister the Type A++++ parent of preschoolers. We were at Great Wolf Lodge (one of the most kid-friendly hotels you can find) walking from our room to the restaurant. At the end of the hall were double doors, of which one was open and one was closed. Her 3yo wasn’t watching where she was going and walked right into the closed door. My sister’s reaction was to get that outraged “this isn’t happening to another child” look on her face, and spend the next minute or two figuring out how to lock that door in an open position. Because it’s too much to ask a child (or his doting parent) to avoid collisions with very obvious, large, everyday objects.
Never mind the question of whether the hotel staff had a reason for leaving the one door shut.
It’s the control thing. If I never let anything even almost happen on my watch, I’ll sleep better at night. Only you can’t control everything, because you can’t know everything; and the sooner you accept it, the more sleep you’ll actually get.
I’m a police/fire dispatcher too, for a county of about 500,000 population, and seriously that job is 80% mundane (my neighbor is playing loud music, my car was broken into overnight, I have a stomach ache, etc.) and 20% crime. And of that 20%, maybe 1% horrific crime. I worried about very little when my kids were growing up.
And if I could be judgmental, Jackie is nuts. I don’t know how her little boy could be even remotely “adventurous” with all that crap she’s filling his head with.
By the sounds of it, he was lucky to drive off when he did. He avoided at the very least being detained by cops and worst being mobbed by moronic parents.
I got safety alerts from our school this week about children approached at bus stops and asked directions. They children ran away and reported the car.
The last time this happened, the safety alert was about a dented van asking a middle schooler for directions (she ran away too and reported it). They found the van- he was a delivery driver and he was lost.
Moral of the story: Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever ask for directions, especially from school children.
Thank you for a level headed reply, from your line of work. All these people that claim to be in law enforcement, or dispatch, and are so blown away by the odd horrific event, and cannot weigh them against the mundane, I honestly feel they are not suited for the job, should be moved. If you are that bothered you cannot remain objective, and perform your duty properly.
@JT, I’m not sure if you are in some way being sarcastic (and I’m just missing it) but there are a few things incorrect with your statements about the Trayvon Martin case.
In any event, I don’t think the original poster was trying to say they were the EXACT same situation anyway – just that leaping to conclusions about what someone is doing put other people in a completely different mindset….which is what happened at the beginning of the Martin/Zimmerman tragedy.
I think the social media/internet sharing is part of the issue. We have a list for our neighborhood and from time to time it does go off on tangents about suspicious sales people at the door, white vans that are spotted, etc. Most of the time people are talked down off their ledges thankfully. There has never been a confirmation of reported “suspicious” activity turning into real danger.
I’m sure my mother might notice a strange car parked in front of her house but even if the was curious, she probably would have just mentioned it to my dad or the her neighbor friend who she talked to on the phone each day. And the story ends there.
I just walked the dog and right there on the road, not even in front of any house, was a running SUV with two people sitting in it. One of them was even drinking a soda. They were black too and no black people live in this part of the neighborhood. Clearly, I need to call the police and send out an alert to my neighborhood listserv. Kids will be home from school soon.
*I probably wouldn’t have even noticed this and definitely wouldn’t have gathered that much detail if I hadn’t just read this post before going outside.
Oh goodness, I have had so many conversations like this on Facebook. Sometimes I feel like it’s a losing battle. I usually end up looking like a careless parent, while they look like “Mom of the Year.” I’m not changing my tactics — I firmly believe FRK is the best way to parent — but I would love for once to get some affirmation!
A friend of mine shared a FB neighborhood exchange following Halloween. He said that a neighbor floated the idea of giving neighborhood kids stickers next year so they could prove their residency. I can’t even imagine making such a suggestion. Apparently there were numerous sympathetic posts before a few reasonable people let loose on them.
‘Mob mentality’ isn’t a good thing, even if it’s a bunch of neighbors from the ‘burbs on FB!
1989 “The Burbs”, with Tom Hanks. Personally I think the kid had it right. His lunatic neighbours were more entertaining than anything on TV.
Aaah, the famous “do you have kids” line to kill any disagreement before it can start.
The greatest threat to democracy: hysterical parents http://dumbagent.com/the-greatest-threat-to-democracy/
One of my neighbors sits near the bus stop for the elementary school. He only speaks to people he knows like my daughter, my husband, and me.
My daughter said no one visits her middle school bus stop. It isn’t much further down the road but it is an hour earlier. I have to ask her if she would help anyone with directions. I think she would be am not totally sure.
Hey everyone, it’s the Adam from the above story. Here’s the update:
The man in the car, lived IN the neighborhood. He was simply doing what I suggested, waiting for his GPS to get a signal so he could go about his day.
The real sad part is the wife of the man in question responded with, “he’ll be more careful about where he parks next time.” Why should he? If the residents of the development can’t even park on the street what would happen if someone got lost, or even if some relative or friend from out of state happened to be the person in question? It’s ridiculous.
In other news, I’ve since been kicked out of that group, most likely because of this and the fact I don’t live in that neighborhood anymore – something I’m very happy about.
I think I would’ve asked him if he was lost and offered to help. IF, after that, I felt uneasy, then I might call the police. I’m torn on this one because I don’t go to worst first thinking, but the overall scenario might put up my antennae. I think you have to trust your gut on certain things. But I also think that kindness should be your first reaction. Also, I think sitting in an idling car at a school bus stop in the dark is VERY obvious. I don’t think someone looking for a kid would be that out there.
Well if no men in the neighborhood are allowed to look at children or be around the places where they gather, that removes at least half of the real-life safety net I was counting on should anyone actually bother my child while she’s outdoors.
I believe my neighbors – male and female – would step up and help my kids if anyone tried any crap, because they have seen my kids walking around the neighborhood since they were wee tots, and their spidey sense would go off if there was anything weird happening. I hope none of them thinks it would be dangerous to come forward on account of the suspicious nature of being male.
I will admit to getting the heebie jeebies myself while out in the dark, wee hours. It’s silly, but you get these little irrational panic attacks from time to time. I remember a time when I went to get the mail around midnight and a pickup with a loud motor started barreling up the road. (I live at the end of a cul-de-sac so it would have rammed my butt had it not turned.) It was just so out of the ordinary I felt weird and ran back to my house. Through the window I saw that it was the neighbor two doors down, driving a vehicle that was new to me. Anyhoo, I don’t fault someone for feeling funny about something. But it should take a lot more than that before someone contemplates calling the cops on someone.
We had something similar happen near here. A “suspicious” car was seen idling around a bus stop. Parents put up warning posters all around the condo complex, and asked the school to send home a note warning people about this car. It turned out to be a child’s Grandmother who was visiting and taking her grandchild to the bus stop. Really dangerous, right?
…white vans that are spotted…
Ah, yes. The Dodge Dalmation.
I’d also like to point out that even former sex offenders get lost and need directions or like to pull off to the side to make phone calls. 😉
No matter how you paint it, a guy sitting in a running car at a bus stop on a small dead end street in the dark at the ungodly hour that the bus comes is a tad suspicious.
It sends the needle on my Suspicion-O-Meter from a zero to about a 1.315
My son is only 4, and I have pretty much put the fear of God in him about strangers!
God will have to help that child if he ever gets lost, because he’ll be hiding from and running from the evil strangers who are trying to rescue him.
So – now I am worried. The only real discussions about strangers that I have had with my daughter are those revolving around some “assumptions” she has made…she is 4. Some of those are:
– Is that lady a witch (it was an old lady…thank you snow white)
– I don’t like that man (it was a man that was on the unattractive side)
We discuss that you can not tell what a person is like from the way they look. That the woman is probably someone’s grammy, the man may be someone’s uncle…etc. I honestly haven’t had any discussion with her on being stolen or that there are “bad” people out there. Cars can hit her so she has to stay on the sidewalk, dogs may bite so you have to ask the owner if you can pet them.
Nope…she already seems to have a general innate hesitation (I won’t call it fear) of strangers…so I trust that she gets that. I am obviously an AWFUL parent for not putting the fear of god into her. That and I let her butter her own bread and cut things with her own (butter) knife, play in our backyard on the swingset by herself, play with her 1 year old sister – in the basement playroom while I am upstairs!!!! Yup, going to hell in a handbasket.
Something in a comment reminded me of a movie I saw when I was a little kid. No idea what movie it was, but I think it was set in some un-developed place where a boy, perhaps a missionary’s kid, was living. The boy heard someone telling a folk tale about the “echo bird.” That if you ever get lost in the woods, never respond to people calling your name, because it could be the “echo bird.” If you respond then you will vomit until you die. If I remember correctly, the boy did get lost and was afraid to respond when people called his name. I don’t remember how the movie ended.
Seems like some of the stories we tell our kids. Don’t ever trust anyone or you’ll die. Even if you are in need of help, taking help from strangers is always worse. :/
I mentioned this here once before, but in my totally safe little California suburb, a middle school girl reported a man trying to get her into his car while she waited at a crosswalk for her ride home. An email went out describing the car, etc. to all the parents of the school. A few hours later another email arrived with an update. It was a man in the neighborhood, on his way home, and he thought the girl was standing at the crosswalk wanting to cross (a logical assumption), and so he was waving her across the street. When she didn’t move he waved again. Then she ran off in the other direction and he drove home, looked at his emails and saw that he was the subject of a manhunt! So ridiculous.
My seven year old brother is walking four blocks to and from school (small blocks- less than half a mile). A crossing guard helps the 7 year old cross as the busy intersection, and the rest of the crossings are side streets. I’ve shadowed him walking it, he does fine. But all the neighbor parents are aghast that he’s allowed to walk like ‘those kids’ (the other kids who walk?).
Meanwhile, they don’t have their kids wearing seat belts, riding in boosters, wearing bike helmets or taking any other number of reasonable safety precautions (ok, well, those are probably it). And their kids are allowed to play on the street (as are my brothers) and walk to neighbors houses (as are my brothers) yet the four block walk in a very populated area where other kids are is dangerous.
The mind boggles.
Gee, I wonder what would have happened if they saw a car sitting on a parking lot with two young men inside, smoking pot. I know I just ignored them…
@Julie: She stood at the crosswalk waiting for someone and got spooked when someone (else) actually stopped to let her cross, obeying traffic laws???
Okay, that IS stupid. Go wait somewhere else!
I believe the word she was looking for is “scar”, not “scare”.
Any fellow Twilight Zone fans here? That whole exchange reminds me of the episode where a the power goes off and a young boy who obviously loves comic books talks about something similar happening in one of his books. In the book, there is a monster. Everyone in the neighbourhood turns on each other, each thinking the other is a monster and criticizing each other for normal things they do that to their neighbors is suddenly suspicious because the power is off. The reasonable one of the group is turned on and accused of being the monster. The point of the story is that they were all the monsters; humanity is full of monsters because they’ll turn on each other at the slightest provocation. Oh, a monster! he stopped and asked me for directions! Oh help! That woman just told me my daughter is beautiful! Oh what a scary thing to happen to me! Sob, gasp, faint!
Sorry. I’m just frustrated with people in general today, because of incidents like this.
Jackie’s response was just over the top with the Spiderman webs and whatnot. If you’re going to scare someone about something, at least be somewhat realistic. I feel sorry for the kid- he’s going to have a tough time growing up with all that fear going on.
My husband was accidentally the “creepy guy” one day. He knows he inadvertently frightened a woman and her daughter by just the coincidence of being in the same fast-food restaurant and then convenience store next door to it. He felt terrible. But he also knows he shouldn’t have felt so terrible. He’s just a guy trying to get a sandwich.
Great, another thing for me to worry about. My job requires me to drive my car. I usually pack a lunch and at lunch time just pull over somewhere to eat and read. Does that mean people are going to start calling the cops on me?
I wonder about how the children of some of these extremely fear-driven parents will act and react when they wrap their heads and hands around what these parents have done. Do not be surprised when these over-reactive parents find, after their children have understood the poison rammed down their throats and unpacked the consequences, that not only their children will keep their distance, but that their GRANDCHILDREN may be kept from them as well!
Today I parked my truck on a cul-de-sac, about the time school got out. I got out of my truck and went up to a stranger’s porch, and took something. I then got in my truck and drove off, slowly.
OMG, creepy, right?
Not exactly. I was picking up something that had been left out for me by a fellow Freecycler; it’s standard procedure when no one will be home to pass along the item. I happened to get done with other errands about the time school let out. And I always go slowly in residential areas, cuz my truck is a dually and I have to watch out for drivers and bicycles who don’t see my extra width.
But I wonder how often such perfectly innocent activities are regarded by the paranoid as would-be baby-snatching. After all I could have peered in a window or something, horrors!
A MAN! In a Car! On a STREET!
The real issue with Jackie’s poor kids is not that they will grow up scared of everything but, more likely, that they will rapidly realize their mom is freaking NUTS and put all her warnings in the same category: batshit insane.
Guys will shoot spider webs out from their cars and catch me? Sure mom.
You can get pregnant the first time? Uh-huh, whatever.
Don’t let the laundry drop on the floor near the furnace? Whatever, the fire is, like, way over there!
Hmm…Jackie claims to be a professional with qualifications in criminal justice. Would there not be some kind of minimum credit needed in psychology? Maybe she missed the sessions on not making up lies with kids. Or maybe they don’t teach that anymore. In any case, what a fruitcake.
@J.T. Wenting, just for fun I’m going to engage in a little racial profiling of my own. You have mentioned you don’t live in the US – are you an Afrikaner, by any chance? Or Dutch or German? Trayvon Martin isn’t here to defend himself, and regardless of whether he was adopting a silly pose, there is still no way a teen should be shot dead by a vigilante just for being in possession of Skittles. His death is at best an absolute tragedy, and a shining example of why strict gun control laws are sorely needed in the US.
Maybe I’m engaging in the same kind of worst-case thinking Jackie is, but as the mother of an off white seventeen year old boy who wears hoodies a lot, especially walking home at night from his work, I am very grateful we don’t yet have morons with handguns ‘keeping our streets safe’.
Probably the fastest way to get your kid to NOT trust you, is to tell them a lie for “their own good.” The kid is 4, but how long before he figured out that “bad people”, even the worst people can’t spin giant child trapping nets from their cars.
I don’t know about anybody else but that conversation more than creeps me out. There are some very perverted notions going through the minds of masses of folk. We are living in a culture which is decaying at a very rapid rate.
I am the mother of a 16 y.o daughter and a 5 y.o daughter and i have to say that I learned how very destructive it could be to be a hover mom with my oldest. At the time she was in elementary school I would have been one of the mothers watching this man in his car, documenting every observation, with the phone in my hand ready to hit those 3 little numbers. Thankfully, I’ve learned that I raised my child to be observant and aware of the world around her. I’ve raised her how to carry herself, how to defend her self, and to most importantly have some faith in the world she lives in. At 16, I now have a child who feels comfortable coming to me to discuss anything from school, boys, peer pressure etc. My 5 y.o will benfit much longer from a mother who knows that for a child to become trustworthy they must first be trusted and one of the greatest skills you can teach your children is to observe their world and protect themselves as needed. Bottomline, pay attention, be prepared, but have some faith.
Am I the only one who thinks that perhaps the “crazy people shooting spiderwebs” mother is just trolling to show how ridiculous the other parents are being?
My husband’s a local elected official whose district includes several parks. So, it’s not uncommon to see him at the park, making sure everything’s OK, taking pictures (for newsletters, or to send to the parks managers if there’s a maintenance or safety issue), even talking to people (including kids) about whether they like the idea of (splash pad, skate park, music series) proposed for next year or what could make the park better.
I know he’s gotten the “eek! a male!” treatment a few times from people who didn’t know him and didn’t bother to ask.
OMG, I feel so sorry for Jackie’s four year old son. 🙁 There is nothing wrong with being aware & paying attention, but some of these parents sound a little crazy. Where I live there is usually no parking / stopping on the main road so if I need to get something, look up directions, make a call or text I pull into a residential neighbor hood. I think this is preferable than to do it while driving. Once when I was much younger I had something in my eye so I pulled over to use the mirror & a little boy came up to my car & told me I had to leave & I wasn’t allowed to be there. Hmmm if I was a horrible bad guy I’m thinking that it wasn’t wise of this young 5 or 6 yr old boy to approach my in my car alone. There was a recent tragedy in the news of a young woman who crashed her car in Detroit & knocked on a strangers door only to be shot & killed. What kind of crazy person answers their door armed. Again Jackie & her horror fantasy is so unreal & it makes me ill to think that she used to be law enforcement.
This lady tells her kid he might never see his parents again???? I raised my eyebrows at that.
Bless your soul, Adam Parson.
“Iâ€™m a police/fire dispatcher too, for a county of about 500,000 population, and seriously that job is 80% mundane (my neighbor is playing loud music, my car was broken into overnight, I have a stomach ache, etc.) and 20% crime. And of that 20%, maybe 1% horrific crime. I worried about very little when my kids were growing up.”
—– Thanks for posting that. A few years ago, I asked our local police department to send me a list of all the criminal activity for the past few years that took place in a certain large but narrow region across our city. (pop-300,000+) When I read through the list, I was amazed because – like Beth said – most of what was reported was “mundane.” My thoughts as I read the list were things like: “Do they really consider THIS criminal activity? Really?” – And – “Are our tax dollars being well-spent to respond to mundane reports like these? Can’t anybody do anything for themselves?” And…”Maybe we could actually get along with half the number of policemen we have.”
Regarding The UPDATE that Adam posted:
In part he said:
“The man in the car, lived IN the neighborhood. He was simply doing what I suggested, waiting for his GPS to get a signal so he could go about his day.”
Once again – Free Rangers are vindicated. Maybe you can email somebody on that facebook group you know and tell them about Lenore’s blog and book.
“I will admit to getting the heebie jeebies myself while out in the dark, wee hours. Itâ€™s silly, but you get these little irrational panic attacks from time to time. I remember a time when I went to get the mail around midnight and a pickup with a loud motor started barreling up the road. (I live at the end of a cul-de-sac so it would have rammed my butt had it not turned.) It was just so out of the ordinary I felt weird and ran back to my house. Through the window I saw that it was the neighbor two doors down, driving a vehicle that was new to me.”
I’m glad you admitted, “It’s silly.” But of course the reason you get that feeling is because of living in our fear-based culture – AND you don’t go out late often. If you did, you’d know the truth. Almost nobody is out. Period. My wife and I walk and bike late in and around a large area of our city. Nobody is out. Yes, sometimes we see a biker or walker on a warm summer night, or maybe a person putting his trash out for early morning pick up, but that’s it. And it’s been this way for many years. I’m not saying all neighborhoods are created equally safe. But most are far safer than most people think. Irrational thinking grips our nation in more ways than one.
Jodie: The Twilight Zone episode you mentioned is called “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”. It is a true classic. Obviously inspired by McCarthyism, but the danger it warns of didn’t die with Tailgunner Joe.
Brenna: I also can’t rule out the possibility that Jackie was either trolling or deliberately mocking the paranoid culture. If she’s real, then she’s going to have a choice between worrying about A) who will take of her son after she dies or B) what kind of nursing home her son will put her in as she nears her end of life, depending on whether his later reaction to her fear-mongering is submission or rebellion.
I don’t like walking by myself in the dark either, at least around my neighborhood, but that’s only because we have coyotes.
We are surrounded by coyotes, and yeah they can give you the creeps at night. Get yourself a dog, specifically a Great Pyrenese. Great family dogs, awesome with kids, big baby, but the breed was bred to protect herds against predators. Ours “Lego”, keeps them off our property. Now they will wander the bush way back, but will not come anywhere near the house or shop.
I pity Cathy’s kids. She is also so typical in her response – “you must not have kids,” “if you do I pity them/they are going to get hurt, or sick, or die or go to hell.” So nasty. Plus I wonder how people with special knowledge (pediatrician, nutrition, teachers, child psychology, etc.) but no kids deal with this type of parent?
Bryan is also scary. “Corner” and “confront” the person? I’m a woman so if Bryan or friends tried that they better be fond of mace/pepper spray. Now, if they would greet me and talk to me, I could probably set their tiny minds at ease but try and “corner” me and you’ll end up in pain followed by my law firm suing your sorry ass (sorry for the language but I’m a small woman, now middle aged, who would find such actions very threatening. It makes me angry that being in a public space is now suspicious. I’m can’t imagine what is is like for guys.)
Warren, I’m not sure how well a dog would get along with my two cats, though.
My father is a somewhat odd looking man, in his mid-70s, who really doesn’t pay any attention to social norms and who thinks nothing of smiling at young kids and starting conversations with them. He also has a habit of pulling over to the side of the road if he’s early for an appointment and just hanging out while reading the newspaper. He had the police called on him once because, not noticing where he was, he pulled over right in front of an elementary school to read his paper. My father wouldn’t hurt anyone, and despite his odd looks and demeanor, he’s really a great guy.
I am a great believer in “trust begets trust”. I never lock my front door. I rarely lock my car doors. I occasionally even leave the car keys in the car. I live in a small city (pop. 300,000). Crime definitely happens here, but fortunately not anywhere near as much in other places I’ve lived or visited. But lots of people act as if robberies, burglaries and hijackings are daily fodder here, which is nonsense.
And I reckon that the more people believe that if they turn their backs on their belongings, someone will jump from behind a bush and run off with them, the more people out there will think that that is a normal thing to happen and may be more tempted to do that because everyone expects it.
I am not good at expressing this, but I would rather risk having some of my stuff stolen than to force myself to suspect or fear every stranger.
So far I’ve only lost one bike, one camera and I had someone take my car for a joy drive 10 years ago. I got it back though!
Now I know that a child’s safety is very different from material belongings. But I think the same principal about generalised distrust breeding criminial intent applies there too.
(Does anyone know what I’m talking about? I’m having a brain fart today…)
The Jackie comment reminds me of an experience I recently had down at Disney world. I was in a stall in the men’s room and a dad brought his two kids in. He helped kid one in the other stall, and then told kid 2 to go while he was washing kid 1’s hands. When dad made to leave the stall, I heard kid 2 say “No, someone will take me.” So the dad had to reassure him that he will be right outside the stall and no one will take him.
You go, Adam A. Parson. We’re on your side!
That’s quite the horrifying exchange. Shakespear should have been inspired to re-write the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Pretty freaky when folks go so helpless so young.
When I was a kid the only ones in the neighborhood who acted that way were ancient grannies, with nothing much else to occupy their time. My dad used to refer to them as the Mrs. Grundies, and they drove him nuts.
But then, I don’t know why I should be so surprised to find that the average politically correct parental exchange has come to resemble the famous “struggles” of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. We’ve come a long way, baby!
I just had the most insane conversation with some of these same types of mom’s in the neighborhood. We have a “neighborhood” public school which means it sits in the back of a very middle/upper middle class neighborhood. I am about the only parent that has my kids WALK to school (roughly about 15 houses away). Everyone else drives their kids through the neighborhood causing of course traffic jams, and issues for the few kids that walk and ride bikes. These same moms who constantly hover over their children and are now even driving their middle schoolers to school – it’s a K-8 school for fear of “something happening.” On my way home, two of the moms were talking about taking their 12 year old daughter and 14 year old daughter to see the Book of Mormon. Are you kidding me? You are worried about “something happening in the neighborhood” so you won’t let your kids walk to school but you will let them sit through Book of Mormon and then nervously justify it!? Our society is out of wack!
Yet another reason I hate suburbia. It breeds xenophobic hermits by cutting off all personal interaction. I count my blessings that I was able to move this year to a place that isn’t overwhelmed with suspicion, and where anyone can be in any place at any time without their motives called into question by a nosy committee.
Then again, the place I moved to IS the one that sparked an uproar when a certain 9-year-old rode the train solo, so maybe I’m off-base about the place. But I suspect most of the critics were suburbanites, not Manhattanites.