Friday, July 9, 2010

Fatherhood Friday: A turd in the pool

Contrary to the name of the show I am putting on in August (The Dangerous Lives of Children) I do all I can to keep my kids safe and sound on a daily basis. We live on a busy street, so since day one, I have pounded (gently) into the kid’s heads that they can’t play near the street. Once a year we allow them to frolic in the street, and that’s only when the annual Rose Parade makes its ponderous trek down our street towards the park for its finale. We have talked about stranger danger and all the other biggies, and we avoid places that might put them in danger on a regular basis (strip clubs, motorcycle gangs, tattoo parlors etc.). So imagine my surprise when we go to Nixon Park and try to cool off in their pool/water park and there is a guy there with an electronic tether on his leg.


Tod pointed him out first and it wasn’t long before Anna noticed it and asked what it was. I stammered for a minute and told her that it was a radio as I didn’t want to scare her. Oh sure, I know that we need to live and let live in our world, as that is what the good book teaches us, but there are some areas in life where I don’t want to have to worry and I want to be able to enjoy myself with my family. I don’t know what this guy did, and I don’t want to know. What bothers me is the fact that he was there and is still under supervision by the Michigan Department of Corrections. Sure, he might not be dangerous, but we don’t know what he did to deserve this punishment so the mind reels. Perhaps if the Michigan Department of Corrections could come up with some color coded lettering system, it might all work out in the end.

There is a scene in Todd Field’s 2006 movie “Little Children” that shows Jackie Earle Haley’s character, a convicted sex offender (who is key to the plot) diving into a crowded public pool with a mask and snorkel. An observant parent recognizes him, sounds the alarm, and the pool is cleared quicker than a shark warning on a beach. The camera catches him swimming around underwater, oblivious (or not) to the commotion he is causing on deck. That scene flashed in my mind as I watched this guy float around the pool taking pictures with his camera (why he was taking pictures, I don’t know, it just added to the ick factor).

My heavily sun-blocked skin crawled in the staggering heat.

I posted this lovely tidbit of my life on Facebook and for the most part, the responses from my 400 + friends were all supporting my WTF questioning of this guy being in a public space under police surveillance. There were however, some detractors who felt I wasn’t giving him the benefit of the doubt and thought that I was being too harsh on him and my judgment. I stood firm though and pointed out that there are some places where criminals shouldn’t go… including public pools with an emphasis on kids and toddlers. The rest of my short list would be petting zoos, the kid’s area at any amusement park, the juvenile books department of any public library and any Toddlers and Tiaras contests in the area.

My favorite quote from the bible (the one that I like to toss around to all the fundies in my life) is Matthew 7, “Judge not, that you be not judged. But when it comes to my kids and their safety, I will judge you, and I will watch you, and you are guilty in my book until you are proven innocent or you can prove to me that you are only doing time for check fraud.

Until then, watch your back and stay away from my kids.