Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interacting With Little Kids (Now Doesn't That Just Sound Creepy?)

Family friend or creeper? Kinda hard to tell from the outside...

OK so I've always had this thing with little kids, especially little girls. Let's say I see a cute little 2 or 3 year old walking past me in a restaurant with her parents. She looks at me and smiles or something, perhaps she thinks I'm wearing a funny shirt or hat. This makes me happy/feel warm inside so I smile back and perhaps wave or make a silly face to make her laugh. Now let's say her parents did not see any of this except the last part of the interaction: me waving at their little girl and smiling or making a strange contorted face. I'm a pretty trusting guy but if I was a parent and I saw that I might be a tad concerned/weirded out; there are a lot of messed up people out there. I would probably give that guy (me in this case) an eye and grab my daughters hand and walk away a little protectively.

I usually don't get "the eye", however because I'm so afraid of it I usually don't wave to little kids anymore out of fear of looking like a pedophile. Little kids are great and so cute and I always want to play with them and make them happy; but how sketchy did that  sentence sound?! No, I did not mean that in any shady manner nor was the sexual entendre intentional. My point is that any protective parent can twist and turn ones words or actions around their little kid to make the guy look like a pedophile when he's just extending a hand of kindness. I'm not sure how the whole business works really...

For example, even if we're with some family friends or friends and a little kid is playing around I still feel somewhat awkward playing with him or her even though I'm not a "stranger". One-on-one  with the kid I don't feel awkward, it's just when the kids parents are watching, I feel like they're hawk-eye vision is on me and even the most normal or friendly of gestures could be seen (although I'm probably just being paranoid) as a clever pedophile move. Just think of all the once-innocent phrases like, "you want some candy?" or "you want to sit in my lap?" that have now been turned red flags that kids are told to run away from when uttered by strangers (or perhaps even family friends?). I guess bottom line is I just don't know what to do when a little kid asks to hold my hand or wants to sit in my lap; I'm perfectly comfortable with it I just don't want other people to turn the tables on me and accuse me of being "improper" with their child. It's kind of like Adam Sandler said in Big Daddy when he was taking care of the little kid and he made him wear his bathing suit when he gave him a bath: "I don't know... I don't know the rules with little kids, and being naked, and- just sit down." If I were baby-sitting I'd probably adopt the swimsuit in the bathtub policy for ultra-propriety's sake.

PS: I'm sure girls don't feel this way (or perhaps no one except me feels this way...). I think that's because of the maternal instinct as well as the fact that 99% of pedophiles are men.

PPS: Everyone should watch the movie "The Woodsman" with Kevin Bacon- it's about a pedophile trying to get his life back together and all the struggles he goes through being labeled and outcast (among other things). It's a perspective that is rarely shown or empathized with.

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